Visitation, The
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: +2

Edward Furlong, Martin Donovan, Kelly Lynch, Randy Travis.

Frank Perettis best-selling spiritual thriller is now a movie on DVD from Fox Home Entertainment. It concerns a mysterious stranger who arrives in the small town of Antioch and begins performing miracles. He implies by his appearance and healing powers that he is the Christ, returned. Once again this Christ-like figure is not excepted, but this time the doubters are those familiar with New Testament teachings. So who is this man who can heal and raise the dead?

Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness, Piercing The Darkness) is more or less the godfather of Christian fiction. He helped pioneer the way for many a writer who understood the power of the parable. Though few would justify his work as great literature, most agree that he is always an interesting read. Sadly, the works made from his novels have yet to electrify movie audiences. His Hangmans Curse, about a family of undercover narcs who infiltrate high schools, attempted to pay homage to Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew and Spy Kids, but alas, the dialogue was bland, the acting less than memorable, the pacing slow, and the storyline more silly than mysterious. That film and a great many others made by Christians for Christians may indeed be used by the Holy Spirit to bring some unchurched to church, but they generally lack that spark that sets a movie apart. Same is true for The Visitation.

This is supposed to be mysterious, scary and spiritually rewarding, but it is just dreary and humorless. A few years back Mel Gibson had success with Signs, a thriller that dealt with spiritual themes, one that also featured a minister who lost his faith when his wife died. Besides being an arm-grabbing suspenseful thriller, Signs was an equally touching family drama. There is an intimacy in both script and presentation that causes us to care for these people. For me thats the main problem with The Visitation. It didnt move me. The acting is professional, but uninspired. I didnt feel for the characters.

The production values are regulatory but never standout. Music, editing and cinematography, when done correctly, help further the story. Here these technical aspects resemble the efforts of a low-budgeted church film. This leaves us dependent on the films dialogue to move, mesmerize and teach. Sadly, the endless talking is not poignant or involving, but rather clumsy where I think the screenwriter meant to be insightful.

Well, there you have it, a badmouthing of a Christians work by another Christian about the most difficult thing for me to do. But in this genre, Signs is the pinnacle, the one that sets the standard for this generations spooky thrillers. Different films, true, but they should have one thing in common soul. The Visitation seems afraid to embrace its message.

That said, there will be filmgoers with a less critical eye who will support and enjoy a film simply because they know the source material came from a fellow Believer. They may appreciate The Visitation. Who knows, it may even get some unchurched to church.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A couple of minor expletives
Profanity: None
Violence: Frightening imagery: there are several unnerving, jolting sound effects and scenes; child abuse, a boy is being crucified by his demonic father; though this is brutal, the filmmakers are careful not to be excessive in what they show; we see photos of a dead woman who has been tortured; a dog dies and is buried; several scenes feature arguing and excessively loud rants by the demonic figure; a demonic figure is seen upside down on a wall. Guns, explosives, other weapons: guns are drawn. Blood: some. Body Count: at least two.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Drinking: the former pastor driven to grief tries to cope by drinking. Drunkenness: it is obvious that he has been drinking to excess, but it is pointing out that there ultimately is no consolation in alcohol
Other: Deals with supernatural themes and demonic influences
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (