A young man, Michael (Noah Segan), survives a car crash unscathed in an early scene of The Visitation (2006). During a moment of unconsciousness he seems to have gone into a parallel world to receive the message from a dark angel. Meanwhile, a janitor in a church touches tears on the face of a carved Christ figure & his injured knee is miraculously healed. Travis's dog Max dies & Travis (Martin Donovan) goes into a funk. But unexpectedly Max crawls out of the grave healthy as can be, with that same dark angel standing on a hillside overlooking events.
Each of these & other miracles is attended by the dark angel's promise of "He is coming." The tone of these events is remarkable creepy despite that the miracles seem positive. Kyle (Randy Travis) is a Pentecostal minister who is first to suspect the good miracles are actually demonic manifestations.
Sheriff Bret Hinkle (Richard Tyson) encounters the same "angel" as had Michael, in a Vanishing Hitchhiker sequence. Bret has a brain tumor & won't be able to work much longer, nor even live much longer.
The promised "He" finally arrives with much laying on of hands & a messianic ministry that upraises himself. The miracle worker's name is Brandon (Edward Furlong) & his barn revivals easily convert nearly everyone in the town, except Travis & Kyle & Michael's mother the veterinarian (Kelly Lynch), who are soon being threatened for their refusal to worship Brandon.
The sheriff with the tumor & an aging Vietnam vet had been in a wheelchair since the war are healed & become maniacle soldiers threatening whoever will not convert to the cult. When the cult begins to unravel, Brandon's real identity is revealed to have been a victim of a child-molesting hillbilly daddy, violence begins to mix with supernatural horrors.
As a child, our fake messiah had sought help in the town. He had not been believed but was abandoned to even greater torments. For this reason he has returned with demonic powers to avenge himself against the entire town which had refused to stop what was happening to him.
Based on a novel by Christian fantasy writer Frank Peretti, I would've expected it to be just a little too much into its own religiosity to be entertaining. But it's a fine & spooky story. Though I've never read Peretti, I've read a couple film reviews suggesting the "message" of the novel was excised from the film script. Fellow believers lament the loss of preachiness, but the film's audience is probably much larger than if it had been pitched from a pulpit. An "A" cast & a good script make it recommendable to anyone who likes the idea of a mystical tale of terror.
All the miracles begin to come undone, & Kyle does an exorcism on Michael that reveals once & for all that no one is being healed, but only possessed. When Kyle & Travis go on the rampage against evil, it's one hell of a cool film. So much is going on toward the end that it's a mite unfocused & scattered, but still & all, so much more than your average low budget horror films, with some very fine acting from one & all.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl