“The Manifestation” review: Graven imaginations | WORLD
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The Manifestation

MOVIE | Faith-based film blends psychological thriller with spiritual lesson, but falls short of realistic darkness

Vision Films, Inc.

<em>The Manifestation</em>
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IS THE MANIFESTATION a psychological thriller—or a spiritual lesson? Calvin University professor Geert Heetebrij writes and directs this independent faith-based film that’s clearly designed to scratch both itches.

Day trader Stephen (Jack Kesy) gambles his family’s savings away on risky bets as he tries to “manifest” success. Persistent, suspenseful music alerts the viewer to high stakes, but sometimes the film’s tension feels manufactured. The villain, guru Michael (Usman Ally), got Stephen and his wife (Inbar Lavi) into this trouble by feeding them messages such as “Aspire! You are your own creator! Reject negative visualization! Say what you want!”

In a dumpy office that he imagines is a well-furnished suite, Stephen says, “I want to be successful.” Soon his manifestation takes on a persona—a red-headed alter ego of his brown-haired wife. This evil counterpart represents the true wishes of Stephen’s heart, and she shows him just how to play the game. Meanwhile, the real wife distances herself from her unstable husband. He tries to woo her back with expensive gifts, but he’s losing sight of what’s true and good.

The Manifestation draws on staples of horror and surreal films such as doppelgangers, jump scares, and an ambiguous ending. Instead of tying up the tale with a neat redemptive bow, as we’re used to seeing in faith-based films, it paints a downward spiral. Its themes are explicit as well as helpful: “Manifestation” ideology is idolatry that will destroy your life. The film narrowly escapes feeling preachy.

Still, parts of the story suffer from the message. The film features some violence, but it’s not realistic or scary enough. In the best horror movies, darkness feels truly dark. In this film, you can’t help feeling that someone left the night light on.

Thriller hits

  • Poltergeist / 1982
  • Twilight Zone: The Movie / 1983
  • Gremlins / 1984
  • Little Shop of Horrors / 1986
  • Arachnophobia / 1990
  • Ernest Scared Stupid / 1991
  • Coraline / 2009
  • Split / 2016
  • A Quiet Place / 2018
  • M3GAN / 2023

Chelsea Boes

Chelsea is editor of World Kids.



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