The playbook for Blumhouse Productions, home of small-budget horror hits such as Insidious (2010) and The Purge (2013), is still going strong.
First, line up a cast of recognisable but not especially huge stars, many of them from television in this case.
There is Isla Fisher from Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009), Gillian Jacobs from comedy Community (2009 to 2015), Anson Mount from period drama Hell On Wheels (2011 to present) and Jim Parsons from comedy The Big Bang Theory (2007 to 2015) as a somewhat creepy gynaecologist.
You get credible acting chops without breaking the bank in terms of the production budget.
The same goes for the director. Kevin Greutert is well-versed in the genre as he edited the first five films of the successful horror franchise Saw (2004 to 2008) and later directed Saw VI (2009) and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010).
REVIEW / HORROR
82 minutes/Opens tomorrow/
THE STORY: After a traumatic car accident, Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) moves to wine country with her husband David (Anson Mount) for a fresh start. She starts hearing voices and seeing visions, but her husband brushes them off and wants her back on anti-depressants. Her only friend seems to be Sadie (Gillian Jacobs) from antenatal class.
Next, work with a strong concept. Think of writer-director Oren Peli and the idea of the supernatural caught on surveillance in Paranormal Activity (2007) and writer-director James DeMonaco on legalising all crime for 12 hours in The Purge(both of which have gone on to become profitable franchises).
Similar to The Gift (2015), also from Blumhouse, Visions plays with the tropes and conventions of the horror genre, such as the mysterious whistling kettle sound, a hooded figure whose face cannot be seen and an eerie pool of water in the dead of night.
A nice twist at the end recasts everything that has gone on before in a different light.
It is not quite as gripping as The Gift, but Visions is still worth watching. Sometimes, it pays to play by the book.