Visitors (Complete Edition) (Fantastic Fest 2023)
Dir. Ken'ishi Ugana (2023)
A man wanders a landscape that is ruled by zombies who have taken the surviving humans as their slaves.
Man, what a weird fucking movie.
Director Ken'ishi Ugana, who apparently had originally made this film as a 15 minute short, brings us this Troma-produced movie that explores a world in which zombies have taken control and have enslaved humanity. While it sounds like that's relatively straightforward, Ugana managed to turn the whole thing into a surrealist nightmare that is equal parts Evil Dead and Arrival.
The film opens much more like the former, with a group of friends heading to a seemingly abandoned house that quickly devolves into a terrifying experience. When one of their group is turned into a zombie, the others must try to escape the house and survive. Once the film leaves the "cabin in the woods" environment, the plot goes full on nutballs. Zombies have taken over, and rather than becoming a Walking Dead-esque horror show, the remaining undead are just kinda... having fun. Whether it's plowing fields with their inexplicable chainsaw arms or jumping rope with intestines, these are fun-loving zombies who just want to be with their zombie friends.
Visitors is gory as hell, with some gnarly practical effects and relatively well-used digital ones as well. While it does, at times, rely too much on the digital gore, it's hard to imagine that there was much of a choice given the budget and the timeframe. There are parts of the film that are legitimately creepy, and the balls-to-the-wall insanity makes the whole thing feel like an unnerving fever dream. Absolutely none of it makes sense, but Ugana puts it all together into a perfect insanity that works surprisingly well for a film that is clearly off its rocker. It's crazier than seems reasonable for a film like this, and yet, for fans of the absurdist horror comedy, it works flawlessly. It's a trippy film, and it's well worth a watch for fans of the crazier side of horror.
Who this movie is for: Absurdist horror fans, Asian horror lovers, Musicians
Bottom line: While this one certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, Visitors is a flawlessly delivered gutpunch of insanity that will leave your jaw dropped, not entirely sure what the fuck you just watched. Director Ken'ishi Ugana does a phenomenal job of chugging along with the craziness, and by the close of the film, you're just kinda going along with it all as an audience. If you're a fan of the batshit side of horror, I definitely recommend checking this one out. It's debuting at Fantastic Fest and will hopefully be available to watch soon!