• Night Visions (1990)

    ** (out of 4)

    Sergeant Thomas Mackey (James Remar) is a smart-mouth, sometimes jerk who will stop at nothing to solve a crime. His latest investigation has him after a serial killer known in the media as the "Spread Eagle Killer." After getting kicked off the case, the only way Mackey can get back on is by helping a psychic (Loryn Locklin) around in hopes that she can help solve it.

    NIGHT VISIONS was a made-for-television movie, which was meant to kick-off a series but this aired to poor ratings and mixed reviews so nothing else followed. It's easy to see why this thing didn't take off because it's screenplay is all over the place and never really knows what it wants to be about. It really does seem as if writers Wes Craven (who also directed) and Thomas Baum wanted to do so much with a series that they put all of the elements into this 91 minute movie and there's just too much here and there's never anything clear going on. I say that because all sorts of subplots are thrown in including the psychic having a personality disorder, Mackey having a drinking problem and then there's the search for the killer.

    The actual search for the killer turns out to be incredibly boring because if you've ever seen a movie then you're going to figure out the identity within twenty minutes. I thought it was painfully obvious, which just made the movie feel long and boring. Craven added a few nice touches especially during the opening murder sequence and there's no doubt that the ending was quite good. I found Remar to easily be the best thing about the picture and certainly his tough guy approach. Locklin was also good in her role.

    In the end, NIGHT VISIONS is just too bland and boring to make much of an impact.
    | Copy link
  • Night Visions is an obscure made for TV movie directed by Horror-maven Wes Craven. Deservedly forgotten it seems like it was a pilot for a prospective TV series, which understandably never happened. Dull, in that way that only US made for TV material can be Night Visions is indeed a forgettable bore.

    It revolves around two individuals investigating a series of killings- clichéd, tough as nails, on the edge cop detective Mackey (James Remar) and flakey, ambiguously psychically inclined psychology grad student Sally Powers (Lori Locklin). The Remar character is kind of fun mainly because he so ultra clichéd- he has in turned to alcohol after his wife left him, he does things his own way, bickers with his superiors constantly and is generally an obstinate dick. A good example of this is toward the end of the movie when he physically assaults the captain (Mitch Pileggi), grabbing him by the balls no less, after the captain won't give him back up rather than simply trying to explain the fairly valid reasons he has for needing it. There are even numerous references to how 'on the edge' he is in his first scene with captain Keller. In fact, this scene with its incredibly hackneyed loose cannon versus the by the book chief with its ridiculous over the top dialogue it easily the most entertaining the movie. The movie spends more time with the ditzy psychic who is far less entertaining. The main problem with her is that her abilities are never properly explained or clarified. Is she channeling spirits (If so who's?) or are they just different aspects of her own psyche when she goes into her trance states and seems to take on new personas? It isn't made clear and it doesn't seem to be a deliberately ambiguous plot point either. Her abilities seem simply there to push the script forward in whatever way is required to move things along rather than following any discernible internal logic. Either to lead them to the next clue or victim (Almost always a tad too late), to put Sally Powers (Yes, it is a silly name- they should just have changed it slightly and called her Silly Powers, which would have quite appropriate) in jeopardy in way she would not otherwise have been, to generate conflict between her and other characters, who understandably think she is crazy, or to have her dress in skimpy leather outfits. The fact that she spends a large chunk of the movie in the company of the killer and doesn't realise it, despite her abilities says it all.

    Being a TV movie everything is watered down and incredibly predictable. The 'twist; identity of the killer is obvious the second he turns up on screen and I suspect most viewers will have worked out his modus operandi a long time before anybody on the screen does. You just know the second that anyone starts marking the locations of killings on a map in a movie like this linking them together will form a pentagram and the ultimate explanation of how it ties in with the 'body parts' aspect of the killings, is lame and contrived, especially when they name drop Leonardo Da Vinci. The repartee between the mismatched partners is rather flat, despite the best efforts of the actors and whole growing mutual respect is just another cliché Night Visions dutifully trawls through. James Remar has fun with his clichéd character, delivering his hokey dialogue with glee and Lori Locklin tries to what she can with her poor developed and sometimes annoying character but ultimately the only things she does well is wear a skimpy leather outfit. Mitch Pileggi more or less plays the same role he did on the X-Files, but as if I recall correctly Fox Mulder never crushed Skinner's testicles when he wouldn't support one of his wacko theories. Fans of 24 might also spot David Palmer's conniving wife in a minor supporting role. Wes Craven brings nothing extra to the proceedings- everything is rather bland and by the numbers. If you're looking for an undiscovered Craven masterpiece, or even a goofy but fun Wes Craven horror flick this is not it.
    | Copy link