Blum House is killing it at the moment. They’re pumping out hit after hit with the likes of Split and Get Out that are original as well as critic and audience successes that deserve every bit of praise and indeed money that they are getting. Of course not every film can succeed even for someone with the prowess of Blum House and last year they dropped three films straight onto Netflix in the hope of finding decent audiences for them.
You can see why these movies weren’t pushed in cinemas in the way some of their other films have been. Despite having good cast and production values they don’t exactly blowing mind’s with freshness or proper scares. The Veil, about a Jim Jones cult, felt far too familiar. It covered too much similar ground as Ti West’s The Sacrament but was nowhere near as good (obviously). Curve was a decent thriller with a strong lead, but was just too small a story for the big screen.
This brings us to the third film, Visions. It is the worst of them but it says something about Blum House’s production model that even not being good it is still an easily watchable and vaguely entertaining way to waste your time. Hmm…“Vaguely entertaining”… maybe not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Visions concerns a married couple moving to some valley somewhere to start up a vineyard because it’s the husband’s dream or some such. The wife, played by Isla Fisher, is pregnant. After a trauma involving a fatal car accident they are both keen to make the pregnancy as smooth as possible. This is tricky because Fisher is having weird visions which is making her husband think she’s a nutbag.
The Visions of the film Visions are a big problem here. And that is very bad when a film centres on them, and calls itself after them but the visions themselves are rubbish. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly because they are very boringly shot with no visual flare to them, they just kind of happen and are very straightforward. When we finally find out what they all mean your main reaction will be “oh… that’s that is it?” followed by a disinterested shrug.
The second problem is that all of the visions appear with a loud accompanying burst of music in an attempt to shock you. This cheap post production technique does not make me jump, nor will it you. In fact as Visions got dumped straight onto Netflix you will probably end up watching it with some kind of headphones on. As the rest of the soundtrack is pretty quiet you may find, as I did, that the volume is up pretty high, so when the musical bursts occur it actually hurts because it is so bloody loud. I like a film to affect me as much as the next person but I don’t want it to cause me actual physical pain. Also crap jump scares like this are no substitute for proper mood and atmosphere.
Story wise things are okay, and the actual revelation of what the visions are is a bit different I guess. However there are a couple of characters who add a big twist to proceedings and you can see what that twist will be the moment they walk into frame. Maybe that was the final nail in the coffin as to whether to give Visions a cinema release of a Netflix one – if the twist is THAT obvious then the whole film is seriously undermined.
Actually the real dud of the film has to be the script which is functional at best and clunky at worst. For example,my namesake and mortal enemy Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory pops up as a concerned doctor but his lines are purely exposition and mostly trite. You can visibly see him trying to add some depth and ominous meaning to his dialogue. He fails. Ha! Up yours Jim Parsons!
Poor Isla Fisher does her best too with what she’s got but she’s on a losing battle. She struggles with dialogue which seems to often be describing what is happening to her as it happens rather than being based in any kind of reality, “oh look, I’m having a vision.” That kind of thing. It’s good to see Fisher broaden her range with something different from the usual comedy fair, which she’s very good, and it would be nice to see her stretch her acting muscles again, just not on a derivative script like this. Also her attempt at seriousness is undermined by the tiny shorts she is forced to wear for most of the film.
Hey, look… Visions isn’t up to much, but in some ways it is has found its perfect home on Netflix. It will entertain you for an hour and a half but not in any way challenge you. Just don’t watch it with headphones on…