I'd argue that religious dogma and occult thrillers don't really mix, and Robby Henson's The Visitation would probably prove my assertion with some room to spare. Based on the novel by "Christian author" Frank Peretti, The Visitation isn't to be faulted for coming from a specific religious perspective, but you could darn well fault it for being boring, goofy, and laden with fields of yap.
The humble little town of Antioch is the site of several curious "miracles," bizarre occurrences that coincide with the arrival of Brandon Nichols, a self-named messiah who, it can't be denied, shows off some pretty nifty tricks.
Wouldn't you know that Nichols is, in fact, some sort of evil anti-Christ who shouldn't be trusted, despite the fact that he can cure the handicapped and hypnotize impressionable youths. As played by a scraggly-haired Edward Furlong, Brandon Nichols is about as scary as an overaged trick-or-treater: Mildly creepy, but also weird.
The townsfolk are made up of a surprisingly colorful list of names: We got Randy Travis as a heroic ex-minister, Richard Tyson as a tortured sheriff, Priscilla Barnes as a mom afflicted with the "speaking in tongues" syndrome, and Kelly Lynch as the blandly blonde leading lady.
These goofballs spend most of the movie bouncing off each other, either blaming the nefarious Nichols for a variety of offenses or stopping to preach about how only the power of Jesus can save mankind from the skinny kid who played The Crow Part 4.
But if you like a nice healthy dose of New Testament in your low-budget occult thrillers, you could probably do a lot worse than to give The Visitation a shot. Despite the overt goofiness of the story, director Robby Henson mounts the flick with some style and color.
Video: Side A has a full frame transfer, side B an anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1). Picture quality is passable, although for a new movie it's a pretty grainy affair.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish.
A trailer for End of the Spear.
Personally, I don't trust movies that come from any sort of religious material, because to me they feel like half-propaganda, half-recruitment film. But compared to, say, the Left Behind series, The Visitation isn't all that bad. You could Rent It for the religion, the kooky cast, or for the B-movie fun of it.