Following a tragic car crash that leaves an infant dead, expectant mother Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) and her husband David (Anson Mount) swap their hectic big city lifestyles for the simpler pleasures of the country.

Seeking a fresh start, the couple buys a small California vineyard where unlikely wine buff David can fulfill his lifelong dream of producing his own organic wine and the highly-strung Eveleigh, still battling depression and PTSD after her accident, can relax, concentrate on having a healthy, happy baby and making friends in the local community like fellow mommy-to-be Sadie (Gillian Jacobs).

Increasingly worried about their effect on her unborn child, Eveleigh (egged on by Sadie) arbitrarily decides to stop taking her anti-depressants, much against her caring doctor’s (Jim Parsons. Yes, that Jim Parsons.) advice. Suddenly plagued by terrifying hallucinations and visions of violence, she is haunted by a sinister, spectral hooded figure as things go bump in the night, furniture wanders around of its own accord, bloody handprints appear and disappear and local psychic and wine critic Joanna Cassidy gets someone inside her while visiting Eveleigh’s bedroom though we’re talking supernatural possession rather than hot GILF action.

With no one else witnessing these strange phenomena and David becoming increasingly worried about her wellbeing, Eveleigh begins to doubt her sanity even as she digs deeper into the history of poltergeist activity that scared away the vineyard’s previous owners. But as her friends & family stage an intervention, the danger to her and her baby may be more real than Eveleigh ever imagined…

It’s odd. We rarely think about just how effective one solitary element of a film can be to that film’s ultimate success until, often by pure wild chance, we stumble across a spectacularly bad example. I also hasten to add, I’m talking about artistic success rather than financial which, is even less predictable. As screenwriter and author William Goldman says in Adventures In The Screen Trade: “No one knows anything.”

Which is as good a reason as any for the continued success of the Wayans Brothers, who have not found that a general lack of wit, intelligence, ability or talent have impeded, in any way, their spectacular rise as kings of comedy. It’s easier to blame cruel and capricious fate for their success than admit that American filmgoers may just be mouth-breathing, finger-sniffers, the worst examples of humanity whose humane sterilisation can only deepen the gene pool.

Which brings us to Visions, Saw XXXVII’s (it’s about that many by now, isn’t it?) director Kevin Greutert’s decent, effectively staged, nippy little horror flick with a nice, if hugely predictable, twist in the tale that is very near completely undone by casting so perverse it almost derails the film.

As a fragile, brittle, psychologically challenged mum-in-waiting, the casting of the relentlessly perky Aussie actress Isla Fisher feels, at best, experimental. A gifted light comedienne, Fisher’s acting chops haven’t been this stretched since she played relentlessly perky lesbian teen Shannon on TV’s Home And Away, and her Eveleigh never truly feels like a woman on the brink of hysteria, the petite Fisher feeling, and more worryingly looking, like a sulky child rather than a woman dealing with PTSD and the guilt over being involved in an accident that killed a child.

It doesn’t help that she’s under the care of Dr Sheldon Cooper OB-GYN, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons less convincing as a doctor than Airplane!’s Leslie Nielsen and it’s a shame that Anson Mount, Joanna Cassidy, Star Trek: TNG’s John de Lancie and Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria aren’t given more to do, Longoria particularly ill-used in her brief appearances as Eveleigh’s glamorous, big-city bestie which hint at a possibly longer edit of the film. By far the best thing about the film however is Gillian Jacobs as Eveleigh’s pregnant yoga buddy, the Community and Love actress by turns sassy, solicitous and ambiguous, her steely-eyed Earth Mom unintentionally more sympathetic than Eveleigh.

While the casting of quite so many TV-friendly actors does give Visions a Lifetime movie feel, at 80-odd minutes the film rattles along towards its predictable but satisfying conclusion, director Greutert keeping things, for the most part, refreshingly CGI-lite, relying on old-school editing to achieve effect. Though it ultimately lacks vision and doesn’t quite deliver (puns intended) Visions is a decent, effective little supernatural thriller that’s over before it wears out it’s welcome.

DVD Review: Visions
3.0Overall Score
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