Visitors - New Release Review
Director: Ken'ichi Ugana
Starring: Shiho, Keisuke Nomura, Saki Hirai, Haruki Itabashi, Ryûta Endo, Lloyd Kaufman
Written by: Ken'ichi Ugana
Produced by: Watanabe, Atsushi Takahashi, Keisuke Nomura
Cinematography by: Masashi Komino
Original Score by: Keefar
Three friends decide to pay a visit to another friend who isn't returning their calls. When they are invited into his house they soon realise that something very sinister is going on and their day is about to get very weird.
A Japanese splatter-fest that a young Sam Raimi would be super proud of, 'Visitors' is a complete riot from start to finish serving up gory surprise after gory surprise with a strangely heartwarming message.
Split into three segments over a period of time and working as an extended version of Writer/Director Ken'ichi Ugana's previous short film, 'Visitors' opens up with Nana, Haruka and Takanori driving up to Souta's house, a bandmate who they haven't heard head nor tail from in ages, worried that something might have happened to him. A red flag pops up straight away upon their arrival when Souta's windows and doors are all covered in newspapers. Souta eventually invites them in to his house, more like a messy bedsit, and the trio are a bit bewildered by his behaviour. But things are about to get even weirder when a demonic entity possesses one of the girls and she ends up attacking her friend.
From this point on Ugana presents a crazy over-the-top gore fest with obvious homages to 'The Evil Dead' and even 'The Exorcist'. The demons giggle and scream like Linda and Cheryl from Raimi's 1981 classic, which is both equally terrifying and hilarious. And there's head spinning and bodily entrails flowing everywhere. The gory gags include a sledgehammer smashing a skull multiple times and a small sharp object (I think it was a pencil) slashing straight through one of the demons eyeballs. Blood squirts uncontrollably and the demon spreads its disease through a green vomit. And that's just the first segment. It's great fun.
The next segment, which happens a few months later, takes a little slower to get going and fleshes out the plot of the film (which is admittedly very thin anyway) and the final segment (One Year Later) sees the entire group reunited and living in peace before being attacked unjustifiably by a pair of vigilante humans in an extremely violent manner.
But 'Visitors' isn't just about a demonic plague and guttural violence, in fact the demons actually turn out to be fairly placid creatures who really just want to continue to live their best lives and have fun doing so. They enjoy the simple things in life like loud music and playing jump rope with their friends but they become victims of humans who allow their fear to overcome them and now they want to eradicate the demons.
I love Ugana's style of filmmaking. He's clearly a big fan of Troma (Lloyd Kaufman even makes an appearance) and Takashi Miike. He doesn't move the camera too much and only when he has to and he likes to linger particularly in the second and third segments.The first segment has definitely got more of a grungy look which kinda adds to the overall squalor of the location and situation.
'Visitors' is a twisted, grotesque but fun, blood-fuelled romp that has eerie parallels to today's non-empathetic society but with a happy and hopeful ending.
- Gavin Logan
'Visitors' is available to stream on SCREAMBOX from November 21st