Visions is the latest flick from low budget horror production company Blumhouse, who gave us such titles as Paranormal Activity, The Purge and Insidious (and also, weirdly, Academy Award Nominated drama Whiplash). Staring Isla Fisher, Jim Parsons, Gillian Jacobs, Joanna Cassidy and Anson Mount, Visions is about an expecting couple who move to a vineyard for a fresh start after a car crash leaves the wife shaken to the core. Eveleigh (Fisher) experiences strange occurrences on the land, but it is put down to nothing more than her reluctance to take her depression medication since her pregnancy. With support from friend Sadie (Jacobs) and local wine expert Helena (Cassidy), Eveleigh investigates the vineyards past.
From the off, about 13 minutes into the film, during the welcoming party we experience the first paranormal moment and the word “possessed” is first said. Visions is a fast paced film, but not in a good way like in an action movie. It escalates quickly and unfortunately in a few places it seems forced. Eveleigh and only Eveleigh experiences the strange happenings but it is secondary character Sadie who gossips that the house is haunted, which leads to the next scene when they have a meeting together with realtor to enquire. There is a part when local wine expert Helena makes a comment about how having a great awareness of wine can lead to other awareness’ being enhanced, and she accompanies Eveleigh outside to communicate with the potential spirits. Visions is regrettably pushed along by rather farfetched plot points that could have been eased by perhaps more concentration on the dialogue or a rethink of the narrative in places. Granted, horror films aren’t the most brain teasing films that need a lot of thought, but using knowledge of wine as a bridge to talk to the dead definitely isn’t the best way to move the story along and set up for a scare.
Blumhouse are known for casting actors that aren’t quite in the A-list category. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson in Insidious, Ethan Hawke in Sinister, Jason Bateman in The Gift, Olivia Cooke in Ouiji. They’re all actors you’ll recognise from films and television shows you’ve seen in recent years. Visions is no different. Isla Fisher and Gillian Jacobs are of similar status to the previously mentioned, working their way into the limelight a film at a time. However A-listers Jim Parsons and Eva Longoria have supporting roles, and Visions foolishly doesn’t use their fame and calibre to give the film a little extra. They both play characters that do not develop or really contribute to anything. They’re just there. On screen. Talking. Briefly. Jim Parsons, who made his name as love him or hate him Sheldon Cooper from TV’s The Big Bang Theory, has indisputable talent and Visions doesn’t use it.
The repetitive use of the words “car accident” and “baby”, along with the opening scene, makes the ending seem a very obvious and likely conclusion. That is, until you actually reach the ending. The hauntings during the film seem very poor and disappointing. They are still jumpy, yes, but as scares go they do come off pretty flat. For example, Eveleigh has a nightmare her bed is making a creaking noise, and she gets spooked by some coins standing up straight on their edges. This being said, not all is what it seems. The ending climax makes up for the disappointing beginning and middle, and only until the post credits does it sink in just how clever the whole experience was. It uses the scares that Eveleigh endures all over again, one after the other, and they actually become so much more in the process. No spoilers, but Visions uses a new and refreshing take on hauntings that is so very welcomed in a nearly dried out genre due.
Visions, as a film on the whole, isn’t brilliant. It lacks honest progression and feels like it’s being dragged a long unwillingly kicking and screaming. Blumhouse have such a back catalogue now that the comparison to some of their triumphs only makes matters worse for Visions. The scares aren’t enough for a horror/thriller, and for the film to only seem better than bad right at the end isn’t good enough. With experienced horror director Kevin Greutert (Saw VI, Saw 3D and Jessabelle) at the helm, the cast as talented and as known as they are, Visions falls short of most expectations.
Dir: Kevin Greutert
Scr: L.D Goffigan. Lucas Sussman
Cast: Isla Fisher, Anson Mount, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Parsons, Joanna Cassidy, Eva Longoria
Prd: Jason Blum, Matthew Kaplan, Robyn Marshall, Seth William Meier
DOP: Michael Fimognari
Music: Anton Sanko
Run time: 82 minutes
Visions is available on Digital HD and DVD from June 20th.