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While not extremely religious by any means, I’ve always found religious horror movies fun to watch. THE SEVENTH SIGN, THE FIRST POWER, AMISH GONE WILD; all of these films have a twist or taste of religion scattered throughout to entertain the viewer. THE VISITATION is no different. The movie is a suspenseful mystery centered around faith or lack of.
Reverend Travis Jordan (played perfectly by Martin Donovan) is a man with no more faith. A few years earlier his wife went out for a walk and was murdered in a ritualistic fashion. All that he has left is the dog that they both loved together. Well, I’ll be damned if that dog isn’t terminal and dies also. Man is that rough. As he fills in the last hole of the dog’s grave he sees a strange figure staring at him over a hillside. All of a sudden his dog is not dead. He is up and shaking the dirt off it’s fur. Looking up again, the figure is gone.
These mysterious men seem to be appearing all over town with only one thing to say, “He’s coming.” With that they disappear in thin air. Numerous “miracles” are happening all over town. A boy who should have died in a car crash leaves the wreckage without a scratch, a woman’s burned hands are cured by the tears from a statue of Jesus in church, a cripple man can now walk, etc. The churches get together and discuss the recent occurrences. They soon find that these miracles, and “he”, seem to all come from the new stranger in town who calls himself Brandon Nichols (Edward Furlong). Brandon begins to hold gatherings in a barn. Soon the whole town begins to gather. Is he the son of God? Is he something evil? Who would cast Edward Furlong in a religious themed movie? These are all questions that Travis and his new doctor lady friend (ROADHOUSE’s Kelly Lynch) seek to find out.
THE VISITATION is a good movie because of two things. One of the items that made this movie shine is the look and feel of the film. The quality of this movie is top notch. All eerie moments are heightened by great editing and camera work. The small town feel of the movie is showcased in the rolling hillsides and barns and watching this movie gave me no idea of what kind of budget this film was working with. The second item that made this film work was the acting of all involved. Martin Donovan, Kelly Lynch, Richard Tyson, Pricilla Barnes, Randy Travis all were top notch. At first I found Edward Furlong’s role as Brandon miscast until I gave it more time. Once you get the kid from TERMINATOR 2 out of your head, then his role is great here.
The mystery of the film runs at a good pace throughout the film leaving the viewer still with questions until the film decides to clue us in. The story works fine, until I feel the end. Instead of a slow build up of some revealing items, it lays it all out. The questions are is he good or evil, can he truly heal and then who is this healer really? The problem is the first question is answered with no build up. When the time came it was too clear for any mystery. Stretch it out some more. The second mystery is revealed in the obvious, and the ending gives you answers to the last question. Everything worked but the good or evil part.
Another issue is towards the end it started to get on the cheesy side. Randy Travis pulls the power of evil out with his hands while giving the quickest exorcism imaginable. Looks like Father Merrin has a thing or two to learn from ole’ Forever And Ever, Amen.
Now on a side note for some of you out there. This movie is considered a “Christian movie” ala the LEFT BEHIND series. Now again I am not a hugely religious individual. Sure I go to church sometimes, and have my beliefs, yet I do not want a movie beating me over the head with a certain view. Rest assured I never once felt that this movie was doing any such thing. Now at times I was asking myself if I was watching a “Christian movie” (I didn’t do my research till afterwards), and while the end sealed the deal of my question, I still enjoyed this as a movie itself without a lump from the constant barrage of the bible upside my head.
Minus the slight crashing at the end this is a mystery for the whole family. Like Disney’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, THE VISITATION is light on gore and strong on suspense. It had a few issues, but made me want to finish it all the way till the end. For it's acting, production and being a horror film that works for both adults, and young teens then I would definitely recommend this movie with a strong 4 cans.
Added: Monday, May 01, 2006
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