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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 25, 2010

The Messengers 2: The Scarecrow

THE FIRST "Messengers" movie starred Kristen Stewart in 2007 before she hit it big as Bella in the "Twilight" saga. Horror films form a huge market so here now comes "Messengers 2: The Scarecrow", written by Todd Farmer ("My Bloody Valentine"). Farmer also wrote the first movie but his script was changed by the directors, The Pang Brothers, who came up with a story that's completely different from what Farmer had in mind.

Now, in the sequel made by Ghost House Pictures (who also made "The Grudge" series), he uses his original script, where the story is about a farmer who's darkly influenced by a damned scarecrow, so "Messengers 2" is not really a sequel. It's actually more of a prequel that aims to show the back story of what happened before the events that unfolded in 2007 flick, which is why it's tagline is that it's "the beginning of the end".

The story concerns John Rollins (Norman Reedus), who's also in the previous movie. He and his family live on a farm in North Dakota and they're having a hard time as their harvest of corn will be bad and won't meet expectations, what with pesky crows eating their crop. The bank also wants his farm to be foreclosed and no one will lend him any money for credit since his irrigation system no longer works.
To protect their corn, he puts up a scarecrow in the middle of the field. He found it in the barn of their land's previous owner. His son warns him about it but a neighbor (Richard Riehle) persuades him to put it up anyway. What he doesn't know is that it is cursed and, once it's erected in the cornfield, strange happenings start occuring in their household. At first, it's all positive, like the irrigation system's water pump works again and the corn starts to grow better. But there seems to be drawbacks for each benefit they get.

First only the crows were being killed but soon, all John's enemies also start mysteriously getting killed, including the man who wants to foreclose his land. As more people die, John starts having deadly visions and he becomes drawn to his mysterious neighbors who smack of the supernatural and engage in paganism. Soon, even John's own sanity is affected. Is the scarecrow really alive and killilng people upon the unsconscious bidding of John? Or is John just losing his marbles? He becomes distant to his own wife Mary (Heather Stephens) and kids. He begins to suspect that Mary is being unfaithful and having an affair with someone.

The scare factor here is provided by the creature of old clothes filled with hay that comes to life to become a killer scarecrow. "Messengers 2" can be seen without watching the first movie as it can stand solidly on its own as a different story. But you should be warned that Director Martin Barnewitz has made it more violent than the first movie which was obviously aimed at teenage horror lovers and which is why they have a Kristen Stewart in the cast then. The target of this one is the more jaded horror crowd that wants more hardcore blood and mayhem.

We just wish the script was better constructed so the actors would have had more to work on. As it is, though, they do try their best to show some depth and deliver some inspired terror. If you like horror flicks that telegraph its shocks and make you a bit tense, then just sit back and enjoy as the film kicks into high gear when the malevolent scarecrow springs to life and attacks John himself and he needs to fight back.