A disillusioned ex-preacher and a lady vet confront strange and wicked things a’happenin’ in a small town in Texas.
Robby Henson, 2006
Before I start this review, I feel like I need a disclaimer: the reason we decided to watch this movie is because Jelly, housemate of mine and husband of Melissa (my fellow Silver Screen Queen), loves the book and hates the adaptation. Also, we found the idea of a Christian scary movie amusing enough to give it a try. I’m coming at it from the point of view of an atheist, and have some thoughts that reflect my lack of religious beliefs.
I had more fun watching this movie than I thought I would before I saw it. Part of that was Jelly’s anger about the book-to-screen adaptation, which I have no doubt is terrible. The film’s plot hinges on some supernatural occurances – the resurrection of a poor, beloved dog who had to be put down (referred to from here on as “Zombie Dog”), the apparent healing of several good white Christian townsfolk, a delightfully odd woman speaking in tongues. An incredibly creepy aging boy band keeps teleporting all over the place, mostly to loom menacingly while eerie music plays. And a strange young(ish) man with Jesus hair and a charismatic personality starts to gain popularity throughout the town, healing people in a tent when they come to his sermons. Of course. The priests from various denominations get together to discuss the phenomena and come to no conclusion, although they do prompt one of leading man Travis’s few funny lines.
There are some wooden actors and some really wooden actors in this movie, but a somewhat gone-to-seed Eddie Furlong is perfect for the role of creepy cult leader and self-procclaimed “second coming” Brandon. Both the admiration and the terror he inflicts upon his followers are equally believable, and he brings just the right kind of crazy to his performance. Both the disillusioned priest (his wife was murdered so now he’s lost faith!) and the lady vet (her son is one of the new cultists!) have a few good lines but mostly act concerned/scared/angry (these three emotions often look the same in terms of their facial expressions). The movie also feature Patrick Swayze’s less famous brother. The rest of the movie is shot pretty much as you’d expect a B-grade horror, perhaps made for television, to look – strange camera angles, spooky flashbacks, old cabins in the woods (heh) at night full of jump scares. The movie was just an enjoyably bad horror about, perhaps, not believing in cult leaders cuz they’re crazy…until priest Randy Travis of the wonderful voice pulls a third-act surprise out of his hat and the storyline goes in an unexpected direction (as far as Melissa and I were concerned; apparently, if you are Christian, it’s not that unexpected).
The biggest issue I had with the film was the reveal of who Brandon really was and his the way they deal with his lack of redemption afterwards. While other characters who do terrible things in this movie are redeemed (except for poor Zombie Dog, who has the saddest storyline of them all), the villain is not, and I suppose for a villain this is unexpected – but when you find out what happened to Brandon, that leaves an extremely sour taste in the mouth. This is particularly awful considering the church’s recent reputation and the particular horrors suffered by Brandon. It’s possible I’ve just spoiled you, if you can add two and two and make icky, but it’s something to keep in mind while watching this movie. The religious overtones get stronger towards the end as well, in ways that are frequently just ridiculous. The lead boy band guy is still creepy though.
The Visitation on IMDb