The Surprise Visit (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Surprise Visit (2022) Review

Horrorific content by delgrady on March 01st, 2022 | Movie Review | Home Invasion, Drama, Wilderness, Thriller, Dysfunctional Family

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It's about a robbery that goes wrong which leaves two young drug addicts to make a difficult decision: to give up, or to do the unthinkable.

The Surprise Visit was directed by Nick Lyon (who also directed 5-Headed Shark AttackIsle Of The Dead and They Found Hell) and stars Rob Riordan, Jacqi Vene and Eric Roberts (from Megaboa, Night Night and The Poltergeist Diaries).

The Surprise Visit (2022)

The elephant in the room is that The Surprise Visit isn’t actually a horror film, but a crime thriller – and a very scaled-down one at that. Sure, crime, violence, murder and drug addiction are horrific, and the monster here is alive in the form of rural poverty, but the film is best bracketed within the crime drama genre. Indeed, the film shares the presence of actress Tricia Hawn with the narcotics drama series Dopesick, also filmed in Virginia.

The setting and landscapes provide atmosphere, and are possibly more characterful than the humans at times – rural Virginia is presented as a place of contrasts – of wealth disparity between rich and poor, of beautiful landscapes but desperate lives.

In a camper van underneath a bridge, we are introduced to a young, crack-addicted couple, Casey (Rob Riordan) and Annabelle (Jacqi Vene), who upon hearing that Anna is pregnant, resolve to give up drugs for the sake of their children. Tasked with getting a job, Casey approaches his estranged father Hugh (Eric Roberts) for work or money, but is left humiliated. Unbeknown to Casey, his father does approach Mrs Dixon (Tricia Hawn), the rich matriarch of the large estate he works on, to offer Casey a work trial. Unbeknown to his father, Casey has resolved to rob Mrs Dixon and flee with his partner to a new life in Mexico (creaky crime thriller cliché). The other thing the young couple doesn’t know is that Mrs Dixon’s daughter Juliette (Serah Henesey, who also co-conceived the story) and her husband (Johnny Santiago) are looking after the house for the weekend. When a tragic accident occurs, the question of what you are prepared to do in order to provide and survive becomes the narrative thrust.

Director Nick Lyon is associated with the horror genre, having directed the zombie film Isle of the Dead and TV series Z Nation as well as the TV Movie They Found Hell, which is perhaps why this found its way to this site. He is obviously used to low-budget filmmaking. Along with the scriptwriters, they stretch the resources – utilising the house and its grounds as the main location and featuring only six main characters, but this does tend, generally, to work in the film’s favour. The narrative and running time are sleek and suitably claustrophobic and the presence of the Oscar-nominated Eric Roberts adds a sheen of genuine class. The rest of the cast do also offer convincing performances which elevates the material and budgetary limitations for sure, but one does leave with the feeling of wanting more of Roberts and Tricia Hawn onscreen, particularly in the final act when it becomes increasingly difficult to like and identify with the onscreen protagonists and their actions.

Worth Watching? 

If you go in with the expectation that this is a low-budget thriller rather than a horror film, the taut and suspenseful narrative may well have you hooked.

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