Directed by Kevin Greutert
Given the genre’s focus on vulnerable people in danger, it seems a fairly safe bet to do a film about a pregnant women in trouble. Sadly, as per 2014’s Devil’s Due, the fourth horror from director Kevin Greutert fails to (snigger) deliver. Yet annoyingly it does a lot more right than some of its competitors and births a genuinely innovative third act. Consequently, much like one’s own child it’s difficult to be angry at it as much as disappointed.
We begin a year after a distressing car crash, where a woman’s child was tragically killed. However, the circle of life goes on and the other driver Eveleigh (Fisher), who is now pregnant, and her husband David (Mount) ditch the big city for the picturesque vineyards of California. Here they meet a number of miscast comedy actors in limited dramatic roles such as her friend (Longoria), her other friend (Jacobs) and a doctor (Parsons). Sadly they have little time for chuckles as within days she’s finding herself haunted. Naturally her husband thinks these are mad ravings and blames her depression. But could it actually be brought upon by the ancient voodoo monuments the house was built upon?
As one can guess from my description, this isn’t a particularly original or ambitious film. Then again, that’s not to say it’s incompetent. Aesthetically it’s fairly crisp, with beautiful locations, a thick atmosphere and some unexpectedly uncomfortable gore. Accordingly, Greutert once again proves himself as an adept visual artist (if an awkward editor). In terms of storytelling, the plot sees some intriguing breadcrumbs dropped, and whilst not all strands are necessarily resolved in a particularly satisfying way they do provide a layered mystery to interest the viewers. Plus there’s a genuinely strong twist that jumps towards the end, providing a genuinely interesting subversion on the haunted house subgenre.
Though when this reveal occurs it’s too little too late. Like last year’s The Diabolical, the third act hints at a potential which the rest of the movie fails to live up to. Yes it’s a pretty nice destination – it just takes a lot of trudging to arrive there. Its impact is also somewhat diminished by occurring in parallel to a different twist that’s far too similar to one from a much better movie (which I won’t spoil for you here, though aficionados will recognise it instantly). This wouldn’t necessarily be so damaging, were the film littered with engaging arcs and snappy dialogue. However, the script does the bare minimum to move the story and mostly tells us what each individual character is thinking whenever they’re onscreen. Some of the initially promising lore therefore goes underdeveloped and it’s difficult to be invested in the fate of characters that do everything you’d expect them to throughout i.e. a misunderstood woman being accused of hysteria and a sceptical husband who’s just as dull as they come and a friend that provides emotional support without giving away anything about their own life etc.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s simply not very scary. The titular visions resemble those from numerous other modern horrors and are never menacing enough to cause the trauma that they do: enchanted wine bottles that crack only to repair, blooded handprints that appear on the wall and a mysterious black hooded figure showing up in the night. Most of the frights are fairly telegraphed, and feel all lazily familiar. Really, it’s almost like the numerous other Blumhouse productions never happened. At the beginning I compared Visions to one’s own kids, though on reflection it is maybe more like someone else’s i.e. worth renting for the day, but you’ll be glad to hand it back after.