Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This has got to be the one and only Christian themed horror movie in existence.  Unless you consider ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘The Omen’ Christian themed horror movies.  But those are horror movies with Christian elements as plot points where as ‘The Visitation’ however is a Christian based film with horror movie elements.  This doesn’t mean that ‘The Visitation’ is any good, I’m just telling you what it is.

Based on a novel of the same name by Frank Peretti, ‘The Visitation’ starts us out with the tale of Pastor Travis Jordan.  The Pastor’s lovely wife is viciously murdered, and as is wont to happen in situations such as these, the pastor loses his faith.  When asked by someone of concern if he was mad at God for the tragic loss of his wife, the former pastor responds with ‘how can you be angry at something you don’t believe in’.  So know you know his state of mind.  Fast forward three years later where Travis is pretty much a beer drinking slovenly slob, but at least he has his dog.  Or had his dog.  When the new vet, Morgan Elliot played by Kelly Lynch, informs Travis the dog has only days to live, Travis sinks even deeper into despair. 

Strange things start happening around this little town though.  Morgan’s teenage son gets into a horrific car accident but survives with nary a scratch and is told by a one of three mysterious men ‘He is coming’.  A janitor touches the tears of a crying Jesus at church and suddenly his arthritic knees are healed.  Travis buries his dog, but the next morning old Sam is there healthy as ever.  Now if I bury my dog on Tuesday, and he wants to play fetch on Wednesday, folks, we got a real problem.  I read Pet Cemetery.  Seems the source of all of this largess in a migrant farm hand going by the name of Brandon (Edward Furlong) who is healing people by touching them.  Heck,

he even has the marks from an apparent crucifying.  Surely this man is the second coming of our Lord and Savior?  Well, Travis isn’t so sure and neither is his ex-colleague pastor Sherman (Randy Travis).  They know something just ain’t right with that boy, and as things start to get weirder and weirder, it looks like they just might be right. 

Well, it doesn’t help that Edward Furlong looks stoned out of his freaking mind, and conjures up images of Jesus like the absolutely lovely Paris Hilton conjures up images of chastity.  Christian movies really deserve better than what they’ve been getting, and ‘The Visitation’, though a quantum leap ahead from the last Christian themed film I viewed in the truly awful ‘Unidentified’, still was a very was not a very good movie.  The plot is one big cliché with the ‘fallen pastor’ who we very well know is going regain his faith at the end, but how it’s presented is neither interesting nor compelling.  Oh, and keep an eye on the Bible that Pastor Sherman gives to the non-believing vet at the beginning of this flick, and role it plays in her salvation.  There are major lapses in logic within the narrative, such as our former pastors’ full acceptance of his reincarnated dog.  Come On!  Or how many teenage girls does this messiah have to have sent to his room before someone starts to question his motives?  On that note though, One thing that Waco Texas and David Koresh  taught me, if you can talk a good game, and you do it under the guise of Jesus, albeit a false one, you can convince people to do just about anything.

There weren’t a lot of thrills or scares to be had in the little thriller either.  There was a particular scene where our heroes, at midnight for some reason, had to go to some decrepit house in the middle of a graveyard, with a sign on it written in crayon telling us to ‘Stay Out’ (all signs were written in crayon in this movie).  In the house were swarms of cockroaches, loose creaky floorboards, black paint with cryptic symbols painted in red on the walls, and a shadowy figure who kept running in front of the camera.  Was it scary?  No, it was stupid.  First of all, the search could have waited until daytime, secondly the symbols are only scary if one is frightened of Megadeth, and lastly it was just plain stupid.

The performances were good though as ‘The Visitation’ had an accomplished and veteran cast.  Martin Donovan is good in almost everything he’s in, Randy Travis has apparently stopped making country songs and has an easy charm about him, and Kelly Lynch has been doing this long enough to be counted on time in and time out to deliver a solid performance.  Sorry though, just couldn’t wrap my head around Edward Furlong as a savior.  He was sorely miscast, and since it was such an integral part of the film, the whole thing suffered for it. 

Christian movies and horror movies just might not be two great tastes that taste great together.  The attempt was an admirable one, and as usual, the word is that the book is scads better than the movie.  There are a couple of decent Christian themed films out there, ‘The Visitation’ just isn’t one of them.

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