Matthew Hoemke

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Night Visions (1990)

 Rating:  ** 1/2 out of 4

Cast: Loryn Locklin, James Remar, Penny Johnson, Bruce MacVittie, and Francis X. McCarthy.

Writer: Wes Craven & Thomas Baum

Director: Wes Craven


Wes stepped into the ring of Television film one final time with Night Visions. As it turns out, the film was really designed to be a pilot to a new show, but evidently NBC lost interest after a poor test screening. This is unfortunate for several reasons, mainly because the film really isn’t half bad. Dated and hokey, maybe, but by no means bad. In fact the film offers one of Craven’s most interesting creations in Sally Powers.


The premise follows a loose cannon detective (a la Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon) who teams up with a young psychologist brought on board an investigation by the police to look into the Spread-Eagle Killer who lurks the streets of Hollywood. But detective Mackey learns that there is more to his new partner Sally than meets the eye. She is no mere psychologist; she actually has the ability to absorb the psychological state of the people around her, which she uses to deconstruct the killer’s modus operandi.


The plot is rife with contrivances that plagued crime Television of the era (think 21 Jump Street or Miami Vice), but the elements that give it a unique quality stem from Sally who is a strong and well developed character, played quite well by Loryn Loklin. She is a character that would have suited a series run well, and may have been the problem that killed the plan to turn it into a serialized show. It was an idea that was just a touch ahead of its time. With shows like Medium, Millennium, or even Dollhouse having found success, I feel that it may have come along just a little bit too soon and way too near the hyper reality of Law & Order, which debuted the same year.

It is a shame because of the fact that it was designed to be the launch point of a series, the film has no real conclusion. Sure the crime is solved (with a twist that will catch absolutely no one off guard), but the other characters find no resolution. No one has a character arc and when the film hits its climax, it just kind of ends and you are left with a sense that there is more you were not shown (which, of course there is. You just won’t see it). But, given what we were, it is a good looking made for TV film with a solid lead and a clever premise (however far-fetched) whose only real problem is that it offers no finality or resolution.



Image 1: letterboxd.com

Image 2: www.youtube.com

September, 2016