THE VISITATION

Victory Through the Word of God

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Release Date: February 28, 2006

Starring: Martin Donovan, Ed Furlong, Kelly Lynch, and Randy Travis

Genre: Supernatural Thriller

Audience: Teenagers and adults

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 104 minutes

Address Comments To:

Rupert Murdoch
Chairman/CEO
News Corp.
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
Website: www.fox.com

Content:

(CCC, BBB, O, Ab, H, L, VV, A, M) Very strong Christian worldview where the Word of God and Christian goodness overcomes demonic possession, evil satanic plots and doubt, plus some problematic portrayals of Christians such as Christian leaders in town argue, Christians in town seem gullible and untrained theologically, a story about one reverend who abused a child plays a part in the mystery behind the movie's demonic plots and villains, and protagonist is an ex-minister who has lost his faith and expresses humanist skepticism about two or three times; only one instance of foul language where a villain tells someone to "Go to Hell" and villain calls God evil and implies God is uncaring; strong, often scary, violence and violent references including a villain is stabbed, implied occult murders and satanic torture, a menacing tone appears throughout the movie, gunfire, van wrecks but driver miraculously survives, woman tied up to be murdered, young woman has bloody wound on her forehead from apparent torture but doctor says wound is not deep, man touches people to heal them and they get a kind of electric shock from his touch, demonic flies come out of a villain's mouth, pastor exorcises demons from two people and demonic flies come out of their mouths, images of female corpse's feet tied with barbed wire and bloody wound on her foot as if she may have been crucified, images of skeletons from previous murders, teenager tied to barbed wire fence and crucified briefly as punishment; no sex scenes but reference to a past case of child abuse or child sexual abuse and false prophet invites young women alone to house where he stays; no nudity; villain drinks wine; no smoking; and, villains pose as Christians, angels and Jesus, plus Christian leaders argue, human villain accuses God of abandoning him, and demonic villain steals man's dog.

Summary:

THE VISITATION is a Christian supernatural thriller about a mysterious stranger who comes to a small Midwestern town in the United States and begins to perform miraculous healings that may or may not be demonic. There are some problems with the script and some of the bit players, and there are some scary violent and menacing scenes, but THE VISITATION has a dramatic, exiting ending that uplifts Christian faith and the Word of God, the Bible.

Review:

The Word of God, the Bible, is one of the heroes in THE VISITATION, a supernatural thriller made by Christians. It is an effective supernatural thriller that takes the Bible and Jesus Christ, who is the Word incarnate, seriously.

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 MOVIEGUIDEĀ® 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, MOVIEGUIDEĀ® 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.

In Brief:

Based on the novel by Frank Peretti, THE VISITATION is a supernatural thriller made by Christians. A minister named Travis Jordan loses his faith after his beloved wife is murdered in an unsolved satanic crime. Three years later, signs and wonders, including several miraculous healings, occur in his town. The miracles are traced to a new farmhand in town, Brandon Nichols. Brandon begins preaching a vague message of revival and poses as Jesus Christ, but he only mouths meaningless platitudes. Travis and the local Pentecostal preacher, Pastor Kyle, suspect Brandon is a charlatan, and perhaps demonic. Travis also suspects that Brandon and the mysterious stranger who works with him are tied somehow to his wife's murder.

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 MOVIEGUIDEĀ® advises caution for pre-teens and sensitive moviegoers.