The Messengers

It’s hard to believe that, little over 15 years ago, I had never even seen a Hong Kong action movie, much less suspected that the Hong Kong mixture of gunplay and impossible heroics would become the dominant action form in Hollywood. Once John Woo finished completely remaking world action cinema, the Asian contingent stepped up and changed the way studios make horror movies, too. Right place, right time — the Japanese angry-spirit movies like Ringu and Ju-on arrived stateside in near-perfect sync with the breakout success of The Sixth Sense (a movie that I still regard as a one-trick pony, but credit for helping deliver us from a purgatory of cynically bad, teen-oriented horror pictures starring interchangeably chesty young ladies sans acting skills), and the Scream-addled American film industry took some notice. The Ring, starring the very grown-up Naomi Watts, was a pretty good remake of an extremely creepy Japanese original, but the J-horror remakes have delivered increasingly diminishing returns. Let’s hope the trend is nearing its end with The Messengers.

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