Monday, November 11, 2013

THE VISITOR Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: Giulio Paradisi
Written by: Giulio Paradisi, Ovidio Assonitis, Luciano Comic, and Robert Mundi
Starring: Paige Conner, Shelley Winters, Lance Henriksen, John Huston and Sam Peckinpah
Synopsis: When an evil entity manifests itself as a young girl, it's up to the Visitor to stop her from spreading evil to the world.

THE VISITOR is yet another movie that has been saved from obscurity by Drafthouse Films. Following in the footsteps of WAKE IN FRIGHT and MIAMI CONNECTION, this movie that was previously unreleased stateside but is now available in Drafthouse theaters and will be available soon to own. The film is the work of an infamous copy cat director who managed to obtain an amazing cast and create a visually fascinating and enthralling movie.

The plot deals with an intergalactic agent, the Visitor (John Huston), who must go to Earth to stop the latest incarnation of Sateen, who is this universe's version of the Devil and who was killed long ago, but has maintained influence in our planet thanks to his many offspring. Said evil incarnation happens to come in the form of an eight year old girl, Katy (Conner). It's up the Visitor to stop her and a group of evil men led by Dr. Walker (Ferrrer) before her plot to continue Sateen's influence on Earth. After a fantastical introduction to this world, we are then thrown to the very funky yet mundane Atlanta, Georgia where Katy lives with her mother, Barbara.

If one reads any of the articles that have surrounded this movie or even watched the trailer,then you would think that by the end of the movie, your brain would've liquefied in your head from the sheer craziness the advertisements portrayed. But that's not that the case of the movie at all. There is some pretty crazy visuals that begin and end of the movie, and there's also a very intense, thematic musical cues, especially every time that the Visitor appears in a scene. It's obvious that there is a more ambitious movie here that was constrained by a lower budget. But what director Giulio Paradisi is able to do is create a bizarre movie going experience that is both skillfully shot, though at times poorly edited, with some amazing performances by its noteworthy cast.

Despite the fact that the movie has a cast filled with acting legends, the stand out performance is that of Paige Conner as Katy Collins, the little demon child. Her performance is schizophrenic by switching from the cutesy, innocent eight year old to a pint-sized menace. In just about every scene that she was in, I was surprised by the tone of her voice and her facial expressions. To compare to another demonic child, she gives Linda Blair's Regan from THE EXORCIST a run for her money. On a technical aspect, there are some very impressive stunts and set pieces, keep an eye out for a car sequence involving an evil hawk and prepare to be amazed.

Reading up on director Giulio Paradisi, he had a reputation as a bit of a terrible copycat that was dismissed for making Asylum-style rip offs of bigger blockbusters. Not knowing anything about his reputation or him was interesting because upon finishing this movie, you'd think that he would've gone on to do bigger and bigger movies. The man knows shot composition by taking some insanely beautiful shots of which most can be seen in the trailer. What's just as impressive is how well he is able to use shadows as part of the frame to enhance the scene instead of just negative space.

The music composed by Franco Micalizzi is also one of the highlights of the movie. The soundtrack is full of epic synth washes, pulsing beats, and other worldly noises that convey a better sci-fi vibe more than the movie's plot does, even with its limited budget. Since Drafthouse Films is involved, there can only be hope that Mondo will release the soundtrack on vinyl sometime soon.

It appears that the movie was fairly dismissed and maligned back when it came out. It's very easy to see how because it had a very cheap feel, and a lot that was due to some very poor editing that gave certain parts of the movie a very "student film"  or sloppy feel to it. For example, a character would be beginning to tie their shoe and in the next cut the shoe would be completely tied. And that happens enough times during the movie to be noticeable and egregious.

THE VISITOR is actually not as crazy as any of the marketing for it would have you to believe, but that doesn't mean that it's not a movie that shouldn't be checked out. It's got some great camera shots, stunts and performances out of the cast that make up for the low budget of the movie.

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