There are many takes on the supernatural effects that volatile and horrific events have on the earthly realm. Acts of violence and desecration lead to paranormal happenings, which fuel the plots of most haunted house films. There are a few variations here and there, but for the most part, we find the variations not in the characteristics of the haunting, but in the mystery behind the reason for the haunting's existence.
Because of this, haunting films follow a rather strict structure. There is the initial entrance into the haunted locale, the progression of supernatural events, the mystery that makes itself apparent, and the inevitable climax of the mystery's solution and the haunting's culmination. In this structure, Visions follows the norm for the most part. Its tweaks here and there are of note, but for the most part, its lack of structural dissent leads to a rather boring delivery.
Visions stars Isla Fisher, best known for her romantic entanglements in the likes of Hot Rod, Definitely, Maybe, and Wedding Crashers. This glimpse at her filmography gives you an idea of what to expect as far as atmospheric intensity in this film. Not too long ago I reviewed the likes of The Other One, which I sarcastically referred to as a "Lifetime Original" type of horror. While I wouldn't subject this film to saying it is in the same ballpark, I might go as far as to say it's a couple of blocks down from the stadium.
Visions churns slowly through much of its runtime. The "hallucinations" our protagonist experiences are rarely fear-inducing, while they become more apparent as the film rolls on to be clues to our eventual conclusion. As you get used to the pattern, the "scares" become less and less effective, until you are patiently waiting for the resolution. Fisher is decent in her role, but the fact that she stands out as the peak of the acting prowess in this film makes the slow burn all the more difficult to withstand. It's hard to dive into the highlights of the production without giving away spoilers, so...
The plot actually does a pretty good job of pushing you in one direction until the twist at the end. The story slowly builds into a Rosemary's Baby-type flow. We have mysterious neighbors, peculiar town leaders, an enigmatic husband, and a brand new friend that seems to have a misleading agenda. All the clues initially point to our pregnant heroine having a satanic cult after her baby. Even in the context of a haunted house film, the direction seemed fruitless. Our haunting scenes become pedantic, like rhythmic stepping stones to the ending. So when I am relieved to see this film isn't just a Rosemary rip-off, that is the most positive emotion I can muster.
But I did enjoy the treatment of the haunted house scenario. I'm quite sure it's been done before (though I can't recall the examples on the spot), but it was still a fun method of describing the situation. Essentially, the theory here is that the volatile event that leads to supernatural occurrences is like a stone causing ripples in time that go in both directions. Therefore, the haunting moments you are experiencing could be residue from moments that already happened or basically warnings of what is to come. Given this bit of knowledge in the narrative, we can assume that the experiences are most likely foreboding, so we know we will see all of the reasons behind each supernatural occurrence. This resolution is well-rounded at the end, but again, its delivery is mild at best and really hurts the overall quality from a horror perspective.
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 4/10