The makers of such films as 'The Eye' and 'Bangkok Dangerous', the Pang brothers are the latest in a long line of Asian directors to attract the attention of Hollywood. Later this year comes a Jessica Alba-starring (non-Pang-directed) remake of their thriller 'The Eye' but before that we have the Pang's first US movie, 'The Messengers' - a film with a strong cast, some good visuals and little else.

After almost buckling under the weight of big medical bills, Roy and Denise Solomon (McDermott and Miller) have put what's left of their life savings into a dream - moving with teenage daughter Jess (Stewart) and baby son Ben (Turner) to a rundown farm in North Dakota with a view to making it a sunflower business once again.

Jess thinks the plan is crazy but Roy and Denise are adamant that the middle of nowhere is the best place for her after some trouble in their former hometown of Chicago.

Sure enough, there's not a whole lot to lead her astray, but Jess senses there's something about their new home that a few licks of paint and elbow grease can't fix. It's not long before her suspicions are confirmed - now will anyone believe her?

Horror and shocker fans' status as the most short-changed of cinema audiences gets more depressing by the year and 'The Messengers' won't do anything to cheer anyone up. 

A bit like 'The Amityville Horror' gone country - 'The Hicksville Horror' if you will - 'The Messengers' piles the clichés so high that you wonder if they're visible from space. If it's locked doors, screeching, backward sounds and crows you're after then you'll have your fill.

That said, macabre movies are no longer renowned for innovation so it's all the more annoying that the brothers Pang can't even wring the proper tension and scares out of a creaky old house and a load of birds in the fields. Here scenes that are meant to be frightening end up as funny, and the way the whole film is rushed to fit into under 90 minutes is the most terrifying thing of all.

Quite what McDermott, Corbett and Miller were doing signing on the dotted line for this beggars belief. As for Stewart, the young 'Panic Room' star comes across as a better actress than 'The Messengers' lets her be. The one shiver down the spine that's guaranteed is when she looks back in years to come at this film.

You'd probably make as good yourself.

Harry Guerin