Film Review: ‘The Messenger’


Bogged down by a directionless narrative and pedestrian execution, David Blair’s The Messenger (2015) benefits slightly from a committed performance from rising Irish actor Robert Sheehan. But even that isn’t enough to hold the audiences attention, meaning scope for this film is limited. Jack (Sheehan) is a troubled soul. Ever since he was a child, he’s been haunted by voices of the dead. Unable to escape, no matter how much alcohol he drinks or pills he pops, Jack is stuck in a vicious cycle, targeted by those who died with unfinished business. The latest of which is Mark (Jack Fox), a murdered reporter who never got the chance to say goodbye to his wife (Tamzin Merchant).

As Jack sets out to fulfil Mark’s wish, his turbulent past – and the story behind his unwanted skill – comes back to haunt him. Buried somewhere beneath The Messenger is an intriguing premise that’s been lost along the way. It’s not that there aren’t moments of interest here and there (the well done flashbacks that tease out Jack’s past are weaved nicely into the main narrative), more that the film is happy to coast along on a half-hearted script written by Andrew Kirk. The thrills pertain to half a dozen running scenes and the supernatural elements aren’t fleshed out enough to be particularly creepy. It’s neither a horror nor a psychological thriller, falling awkwardly in between the two.

Plot strands are introduced and then dropped almost instantly, the most bizarre of which being the strong hint that Jack’s nephew possess the same supernatural ability as him. Aside from Sheehan, none of the other cast are serviced. Fox, Merchant and Joely Richardson as an unnamed psychiatrist flail at the hand of their underwritten characters, while Lily Cole crops up as Jack’s sister, who’s bored by her white picket fence lifestyle and concerned for Jack, although not concerned enough to do much for him apart from offer him a bed. Doused in dark and murky colours by Blair, The Messenger has no life or spark to it, failing to provide an in for the audience, who remain on the outside looking in for the entirety of its bland existence.

Jamie Neish | @EmptyScreens