It’s rather funny when one of the only “positive” quotes that the producers of the Messengers 2: The Scarecrow DVD could find was, and I quote, “Bloodier than the first one.” For those who saw The Messengers, you might remember that it was a PG-13, teen-friendly psychological horror film. Blood barely came into it because it wasn’t that type of film. Truthfully, Messengers 2 is much the same way, and I’m not even sure if it is bloodier. Either way, such a descriptor showing up on the front of the cover art isn’t a positive sign.
You know how this story turns out, assuming you saw the first movie. If you didn’t, it really doesn’t matter, as Messengers 2 is a prequel and stands alone. The first one is also a terrible movie and you should avoid it because of its (lack of) quality. This one isn’t quite as bad, even if it also isn’t worth seeing. If you needed a reminder, The Messengers began by showing us how a family got killed, and ended with the killer turning out to be a man named John, who was a husband and father.
John returns as the protagonist here, although he’s now played by Norman Reedus instead of John Corbett. How can you not afford John Corbett? Are you guys really that strapped for cash? Anyway, he’s a farmer who is going through some really tough times. His crops are dying, crows eat what survives, the bank is threatening foreclosure, and his wife, Mary (Heather Stephens), may or may not be having an affair. However, he has recently found a scarecrow, which he found in the not-creepy-at-all hidden door in his shed, and has decided to put it out front, even though his son (Laurence Belcher) begs him not to.
His luck begins to change. The crows die. The crops prosper. The man from the bank dies. The man who was maybe having an affair with his wife dies. Oh, people are dying now. But it’s working to John’s benefit, right? And because he’s the protagonist, we’re supposed to accept this, correct? Wrong. It’s not okay. To his credit, John isn’t too pleased with some of these developments either, and the rest of the film centers around the scarecrow, John’s desire to put an end to its reign of terror, and attempting to set up The Messengers.
At that last task, Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is a failure, as I think it completely neglected to complete what it wanted to start. Maybe I was just lost in the dullness of the proceedings, but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t really finish the whole “John kills his family” premise, and barely even explains why he would do such a thing. That’s the whole reason to make this film, and it doesn’t even accomplish that goal.
What it does do is provide an adequate although terribly uninvolving horror movie about a scarecrow which can somehow kill anyone or thing that gets in the way of John and his farming. I’m not joking; that’s exactly and solely what the scarecrow does. There’s some mystery in regard to how much is in John’s head and how much is actually happening, but in that previous sentence is the crux of the film. That doesn’t make it bad, but it does make it almost impossible to take seriously.
Despite the decidedly different feel to Messengers 2 when comparing it to its predecessor, I couldn’t help feel how derivative it also was. While it’s not the ghost story movie of the first film, this is definitely a story that you’ve seen before. Luckily, it’s told easily and simply and doesn’t contain any unmotivated twists. That alone makes it better than the one in The Messengers, which was convoluted and confusing and its main twist had no reason to exist.
Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is rated R. That will probably please horror films, especially those who are sick of tame PG-13 flicks. The Messengers was one such PG-13 film, which was released theatrically and turned a profit. On home video, the rating is less important, and the R rating was given. What you get is a touch more violence, a little bit more profanity, and a couple of scenes of nudity. It’s not a hard R like the really hardcore horror films, but it doesn’t feel neutered down, either, which works in its favor.
None of the performances stand out, although at least the actors are taking the project a bit more seriously this time around. Norman Reedus takes the role played by John Corbett, and he does nothing to set the character up for what he would become. A slow descent into madness could have been achieved, but instead the character is one-note throughout, even with all the insanity surrounding him. Heather Stephens is better, although it could just be that her character was written with more care. Those are the only two actors who matter in this film; kids and neighbors show up but leave no impact on the memory.
Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is a better film than its predecessor, but that’s really not saying much. If the last film was a D- then this one is a D+; it’s an improvement, but that still doesn’t mean it’s worth seeing. It’s an almost passable horror film that fails to do the one job it had: setting up The Messengers. It can’t accomplish this and while it has a couple of good moments, it’s not worth watching.