The “Eyes of Laura Mars” lite, “A Vision of Murder: The Story of Donielle” delivers on atmosphere but is devoid of thrills; it even reveals the killer’s identity in the first 45 minutes, leaving little suspense.
Donielle (Melissa Gilbert) is a woman with special powers: She has visions of murders, and they usually come true. Plagued by her psychic ability, Donielle has moved all over the country with her pre-adolescent daughter Rachel, who just wants to stay in one place long enough to make friends.
Donielle and Rachel end up in a tiny, dreary fishing village, where Donielle presumes she won’t “see” anything horrific, unlike in the big city (doesn’t she watch daytime TV?).
A high school dropout (her special “skills” apparently don’t qualify her for work at the Psychic Friends network), she takes a job as a waitress in a bar. There she’s befriended by fellow waitress Gloria (Maria Conchito Alonso), whose ticket out of the crummy place is running a used clothing shop in town.
Local (and seemingly, the only) cute guy Doug (Thomas Ian Griffith) also befriends the sexy psychic. But Doug has a secret, which is revealed to Donielle when she touches him: He’s a serial killer!
Time for the first station break.
Rest of telepic is predictable, with Doug tormenting Donielle, and the (clueless) police chasing Doug; you can guess which characters are going to be Doug’s next victims. One thread of the story that isn’t clear is the relationship between Doug and his “roommate” (Randi Lynne): Is she a lover? A co-killer? A relative? In the end, it doesn’t matter because Paul Eric Myers’ script never explains the relationship. In fact, “Vision” feels like a lot was axed from Myers’ script, lending the storytelling a choppy feel that director Donald Wrye can’t overcome.
Gilbert acquits herself well as Donielle, and Griffith is spooky as demented Doug. Conchito Alonso succeeds in injecting life into waitress Gloria, while Rip Torn is wasted.
Robert MacLachlan creates a suitably grim atmosphere in the run-down town. Rest of tech credits are pro.