With a silent debut in Brazilian theaters this week, ‘The Messenger of the Last Day’ is, to date, the best horror film released in 2021, including those on streaming platforms. But the title falls short, after all the film is more than scares and hauntings, and literally gives the viewer something totally unexpected.
It all started in 1995, in the Ura Valley, Bhutan. Two couples of tourists fight their way until one crashes and ends up falling into a dark cave, where it stumbles upon a bizarre skeleton of a sinister creature. Immediately, Paul (Aaron Poole) goes into a sort of trance, with tragic consequences. The years pass and it’s 2018 in Missouri, following James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) investigating the disappearance of Amanda (Sasha Frolova), the young daughter of his neighbor, Nora (Marin Ireland). Except that Amanda’s disappearance may have something to do with something even more bizarre, which goes way beyond what the eye can see.
Based on the Boom! Studios, written by Cullen Bunn, David Prior’s screenplay is unusual to say the least. It starts with those fifteen minutes of history in Bhutan, which in truth have no obvious connection to the rest of the story (the connection is fragile and unexplained). The Next Core appears to be just another little horror horror story, with haunting and provocations from those who will push the sleepy mind. Already the last third of the long course for a stop completely nothing to do, style ‘Matrix’, which even gives a bug in the head and encourages the spectator to understand alone what is happening.
In a way, it’s as if “The Messenger of the Last Day” oscillates between terror and science fiction, but without being defined concretely by one or the other of the genres. While the overall look of the feature is cool, we have to be honest about the viewer’s expectations and what is in the movie. The most obvious scenes of tension and terror are found in this dislocated beginning of the feature film; after this point, they concentrate more towards the end of the more than two hours of film. Science fiction, on the other hand, unexpectedly enters history, involving conspiracy theory, crazy ideas, and alienation. All the filling between the two parts is pure lenga-lenga.
Also director of the feature film, David Prior creates an atmosphere of increasing tension without the viewer noticing it. It is as if he puts us in a pot of cold water and lights the fire: we will feel the hot morninho without realizing that the water will already boil. On the other hand, he focuses his camera too much on the protagonist and his personal dramas, distracting attention and creating bellies that help slow the progress of the plot.
“The Messenger of the Last Day” is a strangely good film, which doesn’t present anything that you would expect. It is a good option for those who are looking for alternatives like this.
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