Visitors (Complete Edition) 2023 Review – Fantastic Fest
An expanded version of writer/director Ken’ichi Ugana’s (Goodbye Silence, Made in Ugana: The Very Special Seance) 2021 short film Visitors, Visitors (Complete Edition) is probably the strangest feature to play at this year’s Fantastic Fest.
And at sixty-one minutes, including credits, Visitors (Complete Edition) is probably the shortest as well. In other words, it’s a lot of weirdness packed into a short running time.
It all begins innocently enough as three friends Haruka, Nana, and Takanori drop in on their bandmate Souta who has dropped out of touch with them and everyone else for that matter. They find his house covered in old newspapers, fliers and other assorted papers. But when he finally answers the door he invites them in for tea.
That was mistake number one. Mistake number two was pulling a piece of paper off the wall to get a better look at what was on it.
From this point on Visitors (Complete Edition) becomes an insane collection of gore gags, with plenty of blood, body parts and green slime to decorate its three segments.
The first part is, as you might expect, the original short which mixes up The Evil Dead, and adds in makeup and a spinning head from The Exorcist and a bit of Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell to great effect. I’ll never be able to hear “Your tea is getting cold” and keep a straight face again.
In the second segment a record producer, Kosuke Nozaki, finds himself tied up in a deserted bar with a disfigured, and strangely calm, man who may or may not be a threat to him. He’s eventually rescued by Haruka from the first segment who, doing Ash one better, now has chainsaws replacing both forearms. It’s a short piece, mostly meant to set up the third and longest segment.
The third segment takes place a year later when Nozaki, doing his best to avoid the creatures, runs into Haruka again. Only now she’s transformed as well and takes him to meet her friends from the first segment. As it turns out demons and humans can get along fine under the right circumstances. But of course that’s not going to be allowed to happen.
It’s hard to really describe the plot of Visitors (Complete Edition) because there really isn’t one. In the style of Troma films, complete with a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman (Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, The Barn Part II) as a radio announcer, it’s a collection of bloody setpieces and outrageous humour. And it does a good job of both, with scenes like a demon’s head that spins around when they’re punched, assorted chainsaw mayhem and a severed head that sprouts a leg to get around.
My main complaint, and another reason it’s hard to describe the plot, is the subtitles. The screener I saw didn’t have its own and relied on Vimeo’s auto-generated ones. They handled Japanese-to-English translation fine, but the demons speak to each other in their own language so large parts of the final story are left untranslated. But visuals like Haruka using her chainsaws to plow a field, a Walking Dead reference with a pair of Sumo wrestlers on leashes and the Kubrick inspired final scenes can speak for themselves.
Visitors (Complete Edition) is not going to be for everyone and doesn’t try to be. But for those who grew up on The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High films, this should be a welcome dose of bloody fun.
Visitors (Complete Edition) made its debut at this year’s Fantastic Fest. It’s worth checking the listings for festivals near you to see if it’s screening.