As you may have read on Tuesday, Blumhouse dumped a trio of new releases on to Netflix before their home video releases. One of these unfortunate films was the Kevin Greutert (director of Saw VI, one of the best films in that franchise and Saw: The Final Chapter, one of the worst) film Visions, featuring a killer cast of TV actors like (Eva Longoria, TV’s Desperate Housewives and Telenovela) and Gillian Jacobs (TV’s Community). Was it given the shaft and handled poorly by the studio? Or was its direct-to-Netflix fate justified? Unfortunately, the latter turns out to be the case.
A year after getting into a car crash which took the life of another woman’s baby, Eveleigh Maddox (Isla Fisher, Scooby-Doo, Wedding Crashers) and her husband David (Anson Mount, TV’s Hell on Wheels) move to a vineyard where a newly pregnant Eveleigh can escape the depression that gripped her in the months following the crash. After some hesitation, she begins to adjust to her new life following the support of her friend Eileen (Longoria) and her new friend Sadie (Jacobs), whom she meets at a pregnancy yoga class. Unfortunately, strange things begin occurring at the vineyard. Chairs move by themselves. Bloody handprints appear on walls. Wine bottles explode before seemingly putting themselves back together. Everyone, including her doctor (Jim Parsons, TV’s The Big Bang Theory), thinks that Eveleigh is hallucinating since she stopped taking her antidepressants upon learning of her pregnancy. Since no one will believe her, Eveleigh attempts to figure out the cause of the haunting herself.
First of all, anyone who watches TV (especially shows of the 30-minute sitcom variety) can admit that the cast for Visions is spectacular. Unfortunately, save for Fisher, who does a respectable job in the lead role, the entire cast is wasted. It’s possible that post-production editing is to blame, but one has to wonder what drew all of these talented actors to this film in the first place. It would be a stretch to even call Longoria’s appearance a cameo, as she has two scenes and maybe four lines in the entire film. They all try their best, and there isn’t really a bad performance in the bunch, but all of the characters feel so underwritten and paper-thin that it’s hard to commend any of them for their contributions.
This is never more apparent than when would-be psychic Helena (Joanna Cassidy, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead) shows up early on in the film, supposedly with a warning for Eveleigh, only to disappear until much later in the film. Even then, she only makes one appearance. It certainly feels like there was originally a lot more for her (and many of the other characters) to do before the film reached Greutert’s editing room.
Greutert, directing (and editing) his first film since 2014’s misfire Jessabelle, doesn’t do much to help matters with his choppy editing and rushed pacing. The irony here is that he got his start as an editor, most notably for the Saw films (the final two installments of which he would go on to direct), which are known for their choppy editing. You’d think he would know better. It’s possible he may have had too much on his plate with directing and editing Visions as the latter task proves to be the film’s undoing. There’s no telling how much of the original product was left on the cutting room floor, but at 82 minutes, Visions feels all too brief. This is all the more depressing because Saw VI is was actually one of the better films in that franchise
Visions also suffers from not being terribly frightening. Aside from one decent jump scare (involving the aforementioned bloody hand print), nothing in the film truly sticks. There’s lots of moving furniture, but while Fisher is acting terrified, you can’t help but feel a little bored. This boredom permeates the entire film up until its final act, which at least attempts something original by providing a nice twist on the haunted house sub-genre. Unfortunately, there is an actual plot twist that occurs at the same time that many audience members will see long before anyone on screen does. It gives Visions a “Lifetime Movie of the Week” feel that probably isn’t what Greutert was going for.
Visions has an interesting premise and stars some notable TV stars giving decent performances, but unfortunately the execution is so generic that it’s hard to give this one a recommendation. It’s worth watching solely for the last 15 minutes, but you’ll have to get through the first 67 in order to do that. Good luck.