Take your typical horror film and tweak it, twisting it just off-center. That would give you a pretty good approximation of the new Pang Brothers scare fest “The Messengers.” Star Kristen Stewart says the film, about a family that leaves the city for a secluded farm, will terrify audiences by keeping them off-balance.
” ‘The Messengers’ is an Asian horror movie set in a North Dakota sunflower farm, a really classic American place,” the 16-year-old actress said.
The film gives audiences a “real story,” Stewart said, so they can get “invested in the characters that they’re scared for.” She says her character in “The Messengers,” Jess, is not your typical horror leading lady.
“In horror movies, the female character in peril is always a very uncomplicated victim. She’s all happy in the beginning at camp, and then she gets chased by a guy with a knife,” Stewart laughed. “In ‘The Messengers’ it’s cool because the character is a fighter, not just a victim. She gets up and kicks some butt.”
But whose butts? Both Jess and her brother, Ben — who is played by two actors, twins Evan and Teddy Turner — are able to see weird and ominous apparitions that take the form of ghostly children.
“It’s sort of a trend lately to have kids be the villains, or the thing that’s going to scare you,” Stewart said. “[Kids are] something you would normally look at as innocence and helplessness. And when they’re the ones that scare you, it’s unexpected.”
Stewart adds that the constant guessing doesn’t stop with Act II.
“What’s really threatening you isn’t what you thought,” Stewart said of the film’s mysterious “Messengers.” “It has been a force trying to warn you of the terror yet to come. It’s human.”
According to Stewart, the difference between Asian and American horror films is that the Asian flicks keep the audience guessing.
“What I love about the Asian horror movies is that they take their time. There’s something slow and deliberate about them, and they’re not as heavy-handed as the American horror films tend to be,” she said. “There’s something really unnerving about the pacing. They give you a chance to get your bearings, but then they rip them out from under you.”
If Jess is kept constantly off-balance in the film’s twisting plot, Stewart said it was nothing compared to how she was kept in the dark by the Pang Brothers’ constantly shifting production schedule.
“They don’t work together — they work on separate days,” Stewart recalled. “They pick different scenes and days they want to do. I was worried I would talk to one, and then the other wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about.
“The whole movie was all just a little twisted,” Stewart concluded.
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