I scare pretty easily, so the fact that I didn't cover my eyes once during The Messengers may tell you all you need to know. Directed by Danny and Oxide Pang, a pair of twins from Thailand by way of Hong Kong, The Messengers is yet another attempt to transplant Asian-horror techniques onto American soil ' specifically, a rundown farm in the foothills of South Dakota. But where's the creepy vibe, the atmosphere of dread, that encapsulated us in both Ju-on and The Grudge, Ringu and The Ring? Instead, we have to endure a series of 'boo' moments, the directors relying too heavily on what's just outside the picture frame. In the old days, bogeymen used to at least hide behind doors. Now, they hide just over the cameraman's shoulder. Ooh, scary.
Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller play a Chicago couple who drag their teenage daughter (Kristen Stewart) and toddler son (Evan and Theodore Turner) to the hinterlands so that Dad can grow sunflowers. And no one seems to mind that the house looks like something out of an Edgar Allan Poe short story, complete with ravens ' okay, crows. But it's not long before the younger members of the family start seeing dead people, pale-skinned ghosts who claw at them but also seem to want to tell them something, perhaps that they should get in the car, hightail it to the video store and rent The Amityville Horror. The crows are good for a loving homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. And the Pang brothers are to be congratulated for setting one of their 'boo' moments in the sunflower field during broad daylight. Otherwise, The Messenger could use some more scare tactics.