Courtesy Vertical Entertainment

THE SURPRISE VISIT, a thriller/drama with a story by Nathan Cowles, Andrew Fein, and Serah Henesey and directed by Nick Lyon, follows a young, poor couple who commit a robbery that soon spirals downward, and they must decide whether to give up or commit another crime. The film stars Jacqi Vene and Rob Riordan as the robbing couple Annabelle and Casey, with Eric Roberts as Casey’s father, Hugh. Rounding out the cast is Serah Henesey and Johnny Santiago as married couple Juliette and Daniel, who are as shocked to see the robbers as the robbers are that someone’s home. Despite some drag, particularly during all the running scenes, which are annoying, THE SURPRISE VISIT did hold my attention, and by the end, I had flashes of True Romance, just not as good.

Annabelle and Casey are drug addicts, but when Annabelle realizes she is pregnant, they promise to give up drugs for the sake of their child. So Casey visits his father, Hugh, to ask for money, but of course, this is not Casey’s first time asking for money, so Hugh shuts him down. As most do when pleading does not give them what they want, Casey berates his father as a lowly gardener of a wealthy older woman, Mrs. Dixon, played by Tricia Hawn. Yet, after leaving, Hugh asks his boss to hire his son to earn money, and she agrees.

Unfortunately, Casey does not know this. He decides to rob Mrs. Dixon’s house since he knows she left to care for a friend, but he is clueless that Mrs. Dixon’s daughter, Juliette, arrived for a surprise visit with her husband Daniel in tow. At that point, their simple robbery goes up in smoke. THE SURPRISE VISIT is based on a true story, and there is a definite class divide among the white cast. The film also looks at how addiction deteriorates the character of a person. Casey keeps making poor decisions driven by his addiction and desperation to provide for his girlfriend and unborn child.

The acting in THE SURPRISE VISIT is not great, but it does the job. Rob Riordan does a great job as a man torn between the need to protect and provide for his family and enslaved by the vise-grip of addiction. The Jekyll/Hyde transformation of an addict is similar to that of an abuser; one moment loving, threatening the next and Rob Riordan demonstrates that. Jacqi Vene’s acting gives Annabelle a sympathetic feel because she wants them both to get clean and do better for their child, and she has faith in Casey. Serah Henesey’s performance did not capture my attention as much, perhaps because she’s running through most of the film.

THE SURPRISE VISIT may not have a star-studded cast and massive budget, but it works well under its financial constraints. The one part that dragged was all the scenes of running. I get it, this is a chase, but too many of these scenes began pulling the film down. However, I was invested in the story and curious to see how it ended. I also want to know which parts were accurate and artistic license for dramatic flair. The ending surprised me—a rarity these days as too many films are both formulaic and predictable. In that, THE SURPRISE VISIT outshines some blockbusters.

THE SURPRISE VISIT arrives in theaters and On Demand on January 14, 2022.

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Movie Reviews

3 thoughts on “[Movie Review] THE SURPRISE VISIT

  1. The ending was terrible. Two things here no witness, so the gardener is dead, then how would they know so much about the pass. Which couldn’t make it a true movie.. Or, he lived and the gardener told the police of the pass

  2. A very stupid movie, I am truly at a loss of words, I guess the only thing I thought about the movie was how much cassey looked like Ernest T Bass on the Andy griffith show!!!

  3. Horrible story line and poor acting . Even Eric Roberts was bad . I regret wasting my hour and a half watching this garbage

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