Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"The line between horror and humour is at least as thin as that veil between the worlds, and crossing it can bring all sorts of things back. This is one of them."

It's a glorious day. The sun bathes the world in a warm glow, picking out the glass and chrome trim of the tiny hatchback that Sota's friends are travelling in. The sky is blue, the breeze through the trees as gentle too. It's probably too suburban to be bucolic, but we are (it would seem) far from the city, and further (it will seem) from reality.

The concrete drive is dusty, the paper screens are overlaid with newspaper, masking tape. The crows are nearby and talkative, far more so than Sota. When the door slides shut there's a finality to it, though we're early in our visit.

Part of the compact you make in houses (and this just barely qualifies) where you must take your shoes off is that the floor is worth preserving. Sota's lair doesn't just have papers scattered over the thin rugs and cardboard taped to various windows but a green substance. That Sota's passage through the house is quiet enough to startle is not just because he knows where to stand to avoid the rustle of plastic bottles scattered leaflets, dodging the light through discounts of 40 Yen. It's not just newspapers upon the wall, as we will find out.

"What's that sound?" in a film full of them, rustles and bangs and squelching, hesitant tread and creaking doors, something that might be strings or metallic synthesis. When there comes a wet rush it is perhaps a relief, but not a long lasting one. When something is well executed it is part of its charm to recognise what films are in its creators' possession. While some of the goings on may not be remarkable they are certainly worth extolling the virtues of.

There are many films where a visit is something to dread. The spectrum runs from The Visitors to Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and beyond. This film references loads of them, from The Evil Dead to The Thing, and to great effect. "Find something to kill!" is not necessarily an uncommon line within genre, but the urgency with which that request is treated speaks to a consistent comic sensibility across the piece. Screened at 2022's Glasgow Short Film Festival as part of the regular Scared Shortless strand, it was in good company. The line between horror and humour is at least as thin as that veil between the worlds, and crossing it can bring all sorts of things back. This is one of them.

Writer and director Kenichi Ugana's film, with the collaboration of cinematographer and editor Masashi Komino, is a treat. There are strong traditions of high concept and higher intensity horror from Japan and this is comfortably within them. I found myself thinking of From Dusk 'Til Dawn, not just because of the quality and quantity of incident but because this seemed an effort to fit as much variety of effects into one small parcel. This is less an exercise in compact efficiency than, like The Exorcist, to find in details the devil that wants out. Visitors is well worth a trip to see.

Reviewed on: 02 Apr 2022
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Haruka, Nana, and Takanori visit the house of Souta, a band member who has lost contact with them. But when they arrive, they find Souta's behavior a little strange.

Director: Ken'ichi Ugana

Year: 2021

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: Japan

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