The 2006 film adaptation of the Frank Peretti novel of the same name, The Visitation tells the tale of Travis Jordan, a former minister in the town of Antioch, Texas, as he deals with the arrival of a mysterious stranger who calls himself Brandon Nichols and does miracles to bring people to him. Travis is skeptical, both due to his ministerial background making him skeptical of false prophets and because he himself lost his faith on account of his wife's horrific murder three years before. Things start getting weird when he realizes that one of the three attendants to Brandon shows up in a crime scene photo from his wife's death, and he quickly becomes allied with Morgan, a single veterinarian who moved into town to provide a safer environment for her teenaged son, Michael, but is worried as Michael becomes more obsessed with the revivals that Brandon is holding on the Macon farm.
It soon becomes evident that Brandon is not an agent of God, but instead something much more sinister, and he is not going to take "no" for an answer, particularly when it comes to Travis.
This film exhibits the following tropes:
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Marian, rather than dying of cancer, was horribly murdered. And the shock of it had Travis quit the ministry and become an atheist.
- Ambiguously Brown: Nichols has brown skin and dark curly hair. This allows him to pass himself off as Jesus (Middle Eastern) and the real Brandon Nichols (Native American).
- Bittersweet Ending: The evil has been defeated, and Travis has returned to his faith, but all of the people who were healed had their ailments returned to them, including Sheriff Brett's terminal brain cancer.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Seriously averted. In addition to a Catholic church, Antioch has Pentacostals, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and Brandon's cult.
- Cult: The people living on the Macon farm.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Nichols' real name is Jason Cantwell. He killed the real Nichols and stole his identity.
- The Dog Bites Back: And how.
- Easy Evangelism: Subverted. Nichols accomplishes it - but it's revealed that a faith easily received is not usually a faith that changes anything.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: What Justin Cantwell's father did to him, literally crucifying him. Which Justin has done to each his victims in turn, including his father.
- The Film of the Book
- The Fundamentalist: Ernest Cantwell. Heavy on fire, brimstone, and sparing the rod spoiling the child.
- Good Shepherd: Kyle and most of the other ministers in Antioch genuinely care about their parishoners and the other people in their town.
- Monster Sob Story: The reason Justin Cantwell/Brandon Nichols is the way he is. Literally crucified by his father, and getting no answer from Heaven, he asked Hell for help instead.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Antioch in a nutshell. This was why Morgan chose the town for her and her son.
- Real Men Love Jesus: All of the men in the story have Christian faith of one sort or another.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Travis for Justin Cantwell aka Brandon Nichols, when he learns what happened. Specifically, he learns that sending the authorities led to Justin being literally crucified by his father. Despite all that Justin has done, as he's dying, Travis tries to get him to repent of his sins and accept Jesus into his life.
- Throw the Book at Them: Near the end of the film, Brandon's chisel is descending towards Morgan's chest when Travis throws a Bible at him. It seemingly has no effect. Then, the camera cuts back and we see that the Bible stopped the chisel.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Nichols is beloved by the town until the reveal.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the latter half of the film, Nichols spends less time preaching and more of it laughing manaically and screaming at the heavens.
- We ARE Struggling Together: The various church ministers may have similar goals, but they don't always agree on how best to reach them.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Nichols's powers apparently work by a precise deadline for the timezone they're in because seconds after midnight, the demons have deserted him for not performing the ritual murder correctly.