There are two kinds of horror films: those that act like rollercoasters and those that sit with you long after the credits roll. Justin P. Lange‘s The Visitor falls into the latter camp. It’s a psychological prodder that leaves the audience with many questions about what they have seen as well as their own lives.
RELATED: 10 Best Family-Friendly Horror Movies To Watch This Halloween
The premise of The Visitor
The Visitor follows a married couple, Robert (Finn Jones) and Maia (Jessica McNamee), who move to Maia’s childhood home after a tragic time in their lives. Not only does Robert have to adjust to a new country and unfamiliar surroundings, but he also discovers a portrait in their home of a man who looks exactly like him. The question is, how is this doppelganger and how does Robert fit into this mystery?
The unsettling nature
While The Visitor isn’t an A24 production, it holds the same sense of foreboding as films such as The Witch and Hereditary. There’s an uneasiness and unsettling nature to what is being watched, as anxiety sits in the pit of the stomach. From the beginning, it’s clear that Robert and Maia won’t be the same after this story, and it’s almost like a wake takes place for their relationship.
Lange refuses to let the tension fade for a second, as even the more heartfelt and inconspicuous moments are drenched with buckets of apprehension. It’s entirely deliberate and intentional, as the Adam Mason & Simon Boyes-penned story is all about the question of existence and how much control and influence we truly have over our lives.
RELATED: The 30 Best Horror Movies of 2022
The twist in the tale
With Robert finding a portrait of effectively himself, there’s always bound to be a major twist in the film. Without going into spoiler territory, The Visitor does pull a card out from its sleeve. The ending isn’t what the audience would have expected, and ties back into the theme of choice and if humans truly can choose their own path in life.
That said, eagle-eyed viewers might suspect at least part of this twist by the 30-minute mark, since there are a few not-so-subtle suggestions lurking around on screen. The biggest challenge, though, is to feel compassion for Robert, since Jones’ stunted performance does come across as emotionless and uncharismatic. While the ending will provide context as to why he is the way he is, there’s a sense that Jones didn’t need to be as robotic. The layer of acting that happens beneath the surface is devoid here and could have added more to the character.
RELATED: Blank Review – The Sci-Fi Film About Writer’s Block
Should you watch The Visitor?
If you’re a fan of A24 films or even M. Night Shyamalan, you will eat up The Visitor and ask for seconds. Psychologically, it toys with the viewer, and keeps hitting the same nerve then pulling back before it becomes too numb. While a stronger lead performance could have transcended the film from good to great, it’s still a provocative film where the horror lies in plain view the whole time.