Director: Kevin Greutert
Writers: L.D. Goffigan, Lucas Sussman (screenplay)
Starring: Isla Fisher, Gillian Jacobs, Joanna Cassidy, Eva Longoria, Jim Parsons, John de Lancie
Kevin Greutert gives us his third film, Visions which is a variation on the ‘pregnant-woman-in-peril’ theme.
After being involved in a terrible car accident resulting in the death of another woman’s baby, Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) and her husband, David (Anson Mount), decide to leave behind bad memories in the city and make a fresh start by moving out to Wine Country to begin a new life.
The couple buy an old winery and a vineyard and decide that this is the time to start a family. Mother-to-be Eveleigh begins to adjust to her new home with the support of her friend Eileen (Eva Longoria) and new friend Sadie (Gillian Jacobs) whom she meets locally at a pregnancy yoga class.
She also makes the acquaintance of Helena (Joanna Cassidy) a celebrity wine critic and historian.
However, not everything goes smoothly, as a few months into her pregnancy Eveleigh begins to notice odd occurrences at the vineyard: objects move by themselves; handprints appear on walls; wine bottles explode and then reassemble. She is plagued by terrifying noises and visions of a sinister hooded figure.
Everyone, including her doctor (Jim Parsons) thinks that Eveleigh is hallucinating because she has stopped taking her antidepressant medication upon learning of her pregnancy. Her husband eventually insists that she should take the advice of the doctor and go onto similar medication that is safe for pregnant women. As the pills take hold the visions disappear, but Eveleigh’s sense of fear and foreboding does not.
Eschewing the pills, Eveleigh finds that the odd events resume and since no one believes her, she attempts to discover the cause of the haunting herself. Desperate to prove her sanity, she questions locals who reveal the haunted history of the vineyard in which she now resides. She also realises that Helena is a fellow “visionary” who may help her discover the truth. When the pieces of the story begin to come together the answer is rather different to what Eveleigh imagines, and this discovery proves to reveal a more immediate danger to herself and her baby.
Visions begins promisingly; it is atmospheric and sets up what appears to be a mysterious and spooky backstory. Unfortunately, the film then mires itself in a spate of repetitive storytelling. The film’s ‘twist’ ending however, is nicely set up and comes amid a reprise of previous premonitions and ‘reveals’ that connect the threads to the eventual villains. The movie can also boast a satisfying resolution which most parents will identify with in the deepest and most primal way.
Fisher’s leading role here can best be described as workmanlike. She gamely deals with a screenplay that tends to have her merely reacting to incorporeal sounds and eerie visitations, while piecing together the mystery of why she’s being haunted.
Anson Mount is called upon to play one of those annoyingly conventional husband characters who is bemused by pregnancy (or just feminine intuition) and insists on constantly telling his wife to “calm down” and “relax” as she become increasingly disturbed by violent visions and frightened for the safety of her baby.
According to the rumours, Visions was pushed back from a 2014 release due to bad screen test reactions. Unfortunately, save for Fisher, the rather decent cast is all but wasted. It might be a stretch to call Eva Longoria’s, Jim Parsons’ and John de Lancie’s contributions as cameo appearances, as they barely feature in the entire film. All of the supporting characters feel underwritten and thin.
It’s possible that post-production editing is to blame – Kevin Greutert, directing and editing his first film since 2014’s Jessabelle, doesn’t help matters by rushing the pacing at times and using choppy editing. There’s no telling how much of the original movie was left on the cutting room floor, but at 82 minutes, Visions feels brief. (The irony is that Greutert got his start as an editor, most notably for some of the Saw films). The resulting Visions thus appears rather as a movie of two halves – it starts off as one kind of movie and ends up as another.