The Messenger

Directed by David Blair
Starring Tamzin Merchant, Robert Sheehan, Joely Richardson, David O’Hara, Lily Cole, Jack Fox and Deirdre O’Kane
In UK Cinemas September 18th, 2015

by Amanda Farley

Directed by David Blair, The Messenger stars Robert Sheehan as Jack, a young man struggling with his visions of the dead. As he becomes embroiled in the tragic murder of a local war reporter Mark (Jack Fox), Jack finds himself obsessed with passing on Mark’s final message.

As he gets closer to Mark’s partner Sarah (Tamzin Merchant), he uncovers a series of hidden secrets that threaten the fragile fabric of his life and force him to revisit disturbing memories from his childhood. As he and his sister (Lily Cole) reconnect it becomes clear his family trauma may have deeper roots.

A mixture of Sixth Sense and Happy Valleys there is a lot of potential in the idea. Jack’s troubled existence, caught between the living and the dead, feels unusual and tragic. His is a life not even half lived; forever caught in the tragedy of others, he is unable to save himself. Like Casandra’s gift, his ability becomes a curse and yet as he drowns in a cacophony of voices, he cannot abandon them. He is their messenger and he needs the living to listen, even if they reject what he says.

The Messenger works best as a drama. Through flashback and voice-over Blair, best known for The Street and The Accused, crafts a well-worn topic into something that feels authentic and brutal. However despite the director’s clear skill there are flaws. At times the plot becomes confused, the story tries to do too much and Andrew Kirk’s script doesn’t hold up to the pressure. And of course there are the moments of horror that become farcical, detracting from the psychological intensity rather than enhancing it.

Sheehan brings a fierce intensity and energy to the role which helps to drive the plot and compliments Blair’s gentle touch and Ian Livingstone’s delicate and somewhat hypnotic score. He captures the essence of a troubled soul and it is easy to journey with him through his purgatory.

While this film is far from a masterpiece, it does offer a nice level of psychological intensity mixed with pathos, tension and suspense to make it worthy viewing. But just remember to ignore the odd bad horror cliché.

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