The Film: Night Visions (1990)
The Principles: Directed by: Wes Craven, Written by: Wes Craven, Thomas Baum, Starring: James Remar, Loryn Locklin, Mitch Pileggi
The Premise: Stubborn detective Tom Mackey, assigned to a Los Angeles murder case involving a couple of serial killings, gets increasingly frustrated with the dead end leads he’s following and the lack of appreciation he gets from his chief, police captain Keller. Enter Dr. Sally Powers, a fresh, clean cut psychology graduate who possesses supernatural powers. In a loose partnership the twosome gradually succeed in unraveling the killer’s motive and working-pattern. This leaves only one person that would fit the profile…
Is It Good?: Eh, kinda. It’s certainly better than that other movie starring James Remar as a homicide detective that we don’t speak about. Remar is certainly the main reason to stick this out. His character, Tom Mackey, is an unrepentant dick and it’s hilarious. He’s the generic loose cannon who gets results but Remar takes it a step farther and plays it as a low-level redo of Bill Chepil’s character from Street Trash. But it becomes apparent pretty early that Tom Mackey is the second fiddle in this picture to Loryn Locklin’s Dr. Sally Powers.
Sally is a pretty decent protagonist, she comes off as a bit of a non-entity at first but she becomes a driving force behind the story. She’s psychic but that manifests as a sort of fugue state where she takes on a different personality. It’s a bit high concept but it largely works and Locklin has the charisma to jump into these different personalities unselfconsciously and sell them.
The movie plays like a lesser Eric Red film, specifically Blue Steel with Locklin in the Jamie Lee Curtis role and Remar as the Clancy Brown character. That comparison does the movie no favors as it’s not written, directed, or realized as well as Blue Steel, but I couldn’t shake the similarities.
The actual serial killer angle is mediocre at best. The killer, dubbed the “Spread Eagle” killer due to the way his victims are positioned, is assembling the perfect woman but that’s realized in a much less gruesome or thematically interesting way than stuff like Pieces or Resurrection. One can’t help but feel that they’ve seen this movie a million times before and while it’s not the worst example of what it is, it’s nothing special.
Random Anecdotes: From the way the movie ends, I can’t help but feel this was intended as a pilot for a TV show. That would certainly explain why it feels so light.
Cinematic Soulmates: Blue Steel, Within, The Sixth Sense, Pieces, Resurrection (1999)