I will be first to openly admit that I am utterly obsessed with The Visitor for reasons that aren’t unlike the near-religous fervor that was granted to Tommy Wiseau’s common sense defying dumpster fire, The Room. But instead of the displaying that movie’s stunning lack of talent, The Visitor earns its notoriety from the fact that the film is utterly batshit crazy from beginning to end with virtually nothing in the movie making any thematic sense whatsoever. Directed by Gilulio Paradsi under the stunning alias of Michael J. Paradise, the movie’s true driving force is that of producer/writer Ovidio G. Assonitis, the man behind such trashy Italian epics such as Tentacles, Beyond The Door and Piranha II and under his watch the movie has become an gloriously inpenetrable cult classic. Behold in awe at the devastating power of a staggeringly over qualified cast acting their way through utter nonsense; behold the power of… The Visitor.
Experiencing a vision of a desolate alien landscape, elderly gentleman Jerzy Colsowicz, is confronted by the storm-bringing form of an eight year old girl who contains the power of a malevolent evil force. His Christ-looking companion is in the middle of telling a room full of young, bald students the tale of Zatine, an executed alien whose spirit lives on to corrupt mankind when he’s told the news and his reaction is not unlike that of finding out that someone’s shit in his cereal.
This evil seems to have been reborn in Katie Collins, the eight year old Colsowicz saw in his vision, so he travels to Atlanta in order to thwart an inevitable disaster and brings a bunch of bald acolytes/assistants along to help him prepare.
Meanwhile, Katie’s mother, Barbara, is having a bit of a rough time of it; her basketball manager boyfriend, Raymond, is pressuring her for marriage although she doesn’t want to get hitched again and her irrational fears of her own weird daughter are proven right after a birthday gift of a toy bird transforms into a gun that Katie fires into her mother’s spine, paralyzing her from the waist down.
It seems that Raymond is a member of a secret sect that worships Zatine and is trying to get him to bumb uglies with poor old Barb in order to produce a male child with powers of psychokinetic abilities similar to Katie. The final stroke of the plan is to get Katie and her brother to one day mate in order to produce the physical manifestation of the evil, alien, satan thing…
From here – believe it or not – things start to get really strange as extraterrestrial lights, killer birds, God-like beings in safari jackets and the random appearance of the actual Sam Peckenpah, threaten to send events flying off into unfettered chaos.
If you read the synopsis above, genuinely worried for my mental health, I can assure you I did not write it while suffering the effects of a mild stroke – this all really happens in one movie. To this day, I’m honestly unsure if the people responsible for making this masterpiece of confusion had any idea what their movie was supposed to be about as they were making it and part of the reason for this seems to be that it wants desperately to rip of a famous Hollywood movie while being unable (or unwilling) to settle on just one. Hurled mercilessly though our thalamus like a javelin forged in the fires of confusion, The Visitor shamelessly pilfers from The Omen, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie and, weirdest of all, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, cherry picking from each at random without any rhyme or reason of whether any of it actually fits into the movie.
While I stated earlier that The Visitor is next to unfathomable, the bare bones basics of the plot are actually fairly simple. The “what” is good mysterious alien people versus a satanist plot to save the soul of a superpowered child – but when it comes to the “why”, the script seems to think that spelling anything out for a flummoxed audience isn’t really its responsibility and is content to sit back and let you awkwardly try to piece things together in the face of random randomness.
Katie’s exuberant shooting of Barbara’s spinal cord is jarring enough, by why did the filmmakers deside that intercutting Katie doing a gymnastics routine with footage of her mother’s spinal surgery was the right way to go? Why have a police detective (played by Glen frickin’ Ford no less) subplot if you’re going to roast him alive in a car crash barely three scenes later? Why is our initial introduction of Katie’s powers an exploding basketball hoop? Why are Raymond and Barbara so nonplussed when the ancient looking Jerzy turns up at their house claiming to be a babysitter? What the absolute fuck is the deal with Shelly Winters?
However, the movie’s brutal sink or swim attitude to the ability of its audience to follow proceedings without bleeding from the ears and eyes has a rather wonderful side effect… if you let the unending stream of nonsensical bollocks wash over you like a soothing tide, The Visitor ends up being downright hilarious.
Be it the side effect of making an eight year old child the villain that inadvertently makes the good guys all super creepy, or the mega-intense performances of leads Lance Henriksen and Joanne Nail who seem to be the only ones taking this shit seriously, or even the fact that the movie’s cast also boasts the likes of John Huston, Shelly Winters, Mel Ferrer, Glen Ford, Franco Nero and a appropriately vexing cameo from famously volatile filmmaker Sam Peckenpah.
None of the cast or crew go as hard as composer Franco Micalizzi, whose massively energetic jazz-funk score fits the movie was well as a square peg in a round hole, but is incredibly better for it and the man deserved some kind of Oscar (or at least a valium) for his fittingly deranged tunes – and yes, I have the main theme on spotify…
Personally, I feel the the film is a work of accidental genius and pretty fucking funny to boot, but obviously if your tastes don’t lend itself to perplexing sci-fi/horror car crashes that uses as much logic as your average drunk four year old, then The Visitor will undoubtedly leave you colder than a polar bear’s wang.
If, on the other hand, the tangled, garbled mysteries of this movie sound perversely interesting then this is the experience for you (may I also suggest Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby if you’re in similar vein of awesomely irrational shite) – so do yourself a favour and invite The Visitor in.