Victory Through the Word of God
Starring: Martin Donovan, Ed Furlong,
Kelly Lynch, and Randy Travis
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment
Director: Ronny Henson
Executive Producer: Jerry Rose, Bobby Downes and
Producer: Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz and
Writer: Brian Godawa
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch
Peter Chernin, President/COO
The Fox Group
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
Based on the novel by Frank Peretti, THE VISITATION opens in the past, in a small Midwestern town in the United States called Antioch, where a minister's wife is murdered in an apparent Satanic ritual. The police cannot find the killer or killers, and the minister, Travis Jordan, loses his faith in God and Jesus Christ.
Three years later, signs and wonders, including miraculous healings, occur in Antioch. One of the healings is traced to a new worker on one of the local farms. The farmhand calls himself Brandon Nichols. Brandon starts to preach revival in a tent on the farm. He lets the amazed townspeople think he is Jesus Christ, but his words are filled with meaningless platitudes about opening your heart and asking for more miracles. The platitudes he preaches contain no specifics and include no biblical references.
Despite Brandon's apparent miracles, the local Pentecostal minister, Kyle Sherman, questions Brandon's ministry and sermons, as does Travis. Travis begins to think that Brandon and the mysterious man who accompanies him are not what they seem, and may even have had something to do with his wife's murder. He also begins to think that the Kyle's declarations that Brandon's ministry is demonic are correct.
There are some turgid and corny emotions and dialogue on display in parts of THE VISITATION, but the movie has a dramatic, exiting ending that should thrill moviegoers who enjoy supernatural thrillers like this. The main cast also does a good job, including Martin Donovan, Edward Furlong, Randy Travis, and Kelly Lynch as Travis, Brandon, Kyle, and the town's new female veterinarian. Donovan is especially good. He makes a fine troubled hero who must defeat his own inner demons.
The best part of THE VISITATION, however, is that the Word of God is literally victorious over the demonic forces in the story, and Travis regains his faith. In fact, Travis learns the importance of getting spiritual endurance through the Word of God and through Jesus Christ. A quote from the Book of James provides the movie's theological crux. It helps to give Travis a new and deeper understanding of what Christianity means. Through this quote, the movie reiterates to viewers the importance of taking the Word of God, the Bible, seriously and living by its principles.
One possible theological problem in THE VISITATION, however, may be its delineation of how exactly can a Christian tell a false prophet or teacher from a true one. It is not clear from watching the movie that the best way to tell a false teacher from a true one is by noting whether the teacher truly teaches what the Bible, the Word of God, says. In the movie, Brandon looks like Jesus and performs miracle healings like Jesus and even bears marks on his wrists like Jesus might bear after His crucifixion, but Brandon does not preach like Jesus, nor does he refer to specific biblical passages or specific teachings from the Bible. The screenwriter could have made this point a lot more clear in his movie. After all, the two main minister characters in the story, Travis and Kyle, are supposed to be theologically and biblically trained Christian leaders.
This problem is why MOVIEGUIDE® urges all Christian filmmakers to get some solid theological and biblical training and to put more of that actual training into their scripts, without, of course, being preachy, self-righteous or confusing. Our publisher, Dr. Ted Baehr's, book SO YOU WANT TO BE IN PICTURES, helps screenwriters and filmmakers put such principles into action in their scripts, movies, videos, and TV programs.
THE VISITATION also contains many scary scenes and scary violent references to occult murders and physical attacks from people who are demonically possessed. The violence includes some images of corpses and skeletons. The movie also has a menacing tone throughout its running time. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for children aged 2 through 13, as well as caution for those moviegoers, parents and teenagers who are bothered by movies in this genre.
There are some turgid and corny emotions and dialogue on display in parts of THE VISITATION, but the movie has a dramatic, exiting ending that should thrill moviegoers who enjoy supernatural thrillers like this. The movie's best part, however, is that the Word of God is literally victorious over the demonic forces in the story, and Travis regains his faith. THE VISITATION contains some strong scary scenes, including some violence, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for pre-teens and sensitive moviegoers.