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Fox Home Entertainment presents
The Visitation (2005)

"People see what they want to see. Miracles, like faith, are psychosomatic."
- Travis Jordan (Martin Donovan)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 07, 2006

Stars: Martin Donovan, Edward Furlong
Other Stars: Kelly Lynch, Randy Travis
Director: Robby Henson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (mature thematic material, violence/terror, and disturbing images)
Run Time: 01h:43m:50s
Release Date: February 28, 2006
UPC: 024543222316
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- DB+B+ D-

DVD Review

It's tough for me to get jazzed about a film that is based on a heavily religious novel. The problem is that books so strongly entrenched in Christian themes often come across to moviegoers as shameless propaganda. Other fare, like the Left Behind films, End of the Spear, and this one, The Visitation, could have been fine films if the religious themes hadn't been so dominant. There is their draw, though, and as long as people continue to attend their limited theatrical runs and buying them on DVD, this subgenre will continue to flourish.

The Visitation is based on Frank Peretti's book of the same name, and the film kicks off with a bang. However, once past the aftermath of this early sequence, and the religion-speak begins, so do the problems. The story just seems to lose its way, right around the beginning of the minister's investigation, as it becomes painfully obvious how things will be resolved, making it difficult to buy into the rest of the proceedings. There's the potential for a compelling thriller here, it's just a shame it is never given a chance to break through.

Antioch, California is a small community where everyone knows each other. Three years ago, minister Travis Jordan (Donovan) lost his wife to unknown circumstances. She was eventually found dead, apparently at the hands of a cult. Now, Travis is struggling with his faith and on the verge of giving up his ministry. Antioch begins to experience a serious of "miracles" when Brandon Nichols (Furlong) appears in town, setting up a weekly tent meeting where he cures people with brain tumors, life-threatening diseases, and other serious ailments. The people of Antioch believe that Nichols is the second coming of Christ, but Travis suspects that all is not what it seems.

Martin Donovan has always been effective in the supporting roles that have dominated his career, and he proves here that he can carry a film as its lead. Kelly Lynch does some fine work, and Edward Furlong is back to being solid as well. It's just too bad that they aren't being discussed in reference to a much better movie.

Despite the numerous issues that The Visitation has, there is a handful of genuinely creepy moments. The problem is that these are few and far between because director Robby Henson tips his hand way too soon, letting us in on the source of this evil in order to give the preachy aspects of the story centerstage. The Exorcist, for example, is chock-full of religious themes and dialogue, but never strays from its primary function as a horror movie. There's really no reason this film couldn't have taken a similar route and focused on telling a scary story that would appeal to all audiences. Instead, it is a case of sacrificing suspense for scripture, and it's all the worse for it.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation (there's a pan-and-scan transfer on the flip side of the disc) is consistently sharp, with very nice image detail. The proper mood is maintained throughout the film, thanks to deep, rich blacks and nice handling of shadow and contrast levels. There isn't much in the way of vivid colors, but such muted hues are intentional, as is the grain that pops up from time to time.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and the track benefits from liberal use of the surround speakers. The few scares offered are aided by a wide dynamic range and slight bass presence that add punch to these scenes. There's never a problem with dialogue clarity either, with crisp and clear speech throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring End of the Spear
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a trailer for End of the Spear.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A missed opportunity, to say the least, The Visitation, combines Christian overtones with a predictable plot that wastes a talented cast and is light on scares. Fox's DVD release is a decent effort, with solid audio and video, but nothing in the way of extra features.


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