SAVED BY THE LIGHT boasts an interesting concept that unfortunately can't be saved from weak direction and a tepid plot line. This fact-based TV movie aired in 1995, and was subsequently released on home video in 1998.
South Carolina, 1975. Dannion Brinkley (Eric Roberts), a nasty, violent grocer, is struck by lightning. He is declared clinically dead in the emergency room; during this time, he undergoes a supernatural experience, from which he reawakens 28 minutes later. After a lengthy physical recovery in
which he is aided by his wife Casey (Lynette Walden), Dannion has a changed personality. He becomes obsessed with his experience and finds he now possesses a psychic ability. Struggling to understand his new world view, he attends a conference about near-death experiences by Dr. Raymond Moody (Don
Back home, he starts using his psychic powers to win while gambling with his friends. One day, he meets a young woman at a gas station and foresees her death; this event occurs in reality minutes later. The shock sends him back to Moody for advice. Realizing he needs to help people, Dannion goes
on a speaking tour with Moody at the expense of his marriage. He is called back home to be with his mother, whom he cares for in her final days.
Later, in Las Vegas, he discovers that his fame has grown; his public presentations now feature faith-healing, as Dannion helps afflicted audience members. He helps an abused housewife, but injures his hand while threatening her husband. When he arrives home, Casey has left him. He goes to the
doctor for his hand, only to discover that the fracture has caused an infection that has damaged his already weakened heart. He refuses surgery until Moody talks him into it. Again, he dies, but comes back once more, and begins speaking around the nation. At one lecture, Casey shows up to
Saddled with low production values and a poor script, SAVED BY THE LIGHT is a scattershot effort that starts off interestingly enough, but doesn't sustain any kind of momentum. Many sequences are dead weight that serve only to impede the plot line, while others are tirelessly repetitive (there are
far too many instances of Dannion arguing with his wife).
Eric Roberts struggles in the lead, due to the fact that his character never proves likeable enough to sustain interest. Dannion comes across as a selfish, egotistical goon who neglects a beautiful, sympathetic wife (well-played by the underrated actress Lynette Walden). In several sequences,
Dannion reiterates the importance of showing one's love to one's fellows and then leaves his wife in a tearful heap. The rest of the cast have no chance to distinguish themselves.
The film's supernatural segments, including Dannion's near-death experience, suffer as a result of low-budget effects (the "death" experience was depicted in a much more arresting manner in FLATLINERS), but the sequences in which Dannion makes use of his newfound psychic skill stand as the film's
highlights. At one such moment, he "sees" the secrets hidden by his fellow patrons in a restaurant; the result is a memorably creepy interlude. Unfortunately, veteran genre director Lewis Teague (ALLIGATOR, CUJO, THE JEWEL OF THE NILE), didn't take care to supply more of this kind of material; as
it stands, the film is a muddled, preachy mess. (Adult situations, violence.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: SAVED BY THE LIGHT boasts an interesting concept that unfortunately can't be saved from weak direction and a tepid plot line. This fact-based TV movie aired in 1995, and was subsequently released on home video in 1998. South Carolina, 1975. Dannion Brinkl… (more)