THE VISITOR movie review | ©2022 Paramount Pictures

THE VISITOR movie review | ©2022 Paramount Pictures

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Finn Jones, Jessica McNamee, Thomas Francis Murphy, Dane Rhodes, Donna Biscoe
Writers: Adam Mason & Simon Boyes
Director: Justin P. Lange
Distributor: Paramount/Epix
Release Date: October 7, 2022

THE VISITOR is a moderately well-done what’s-going-on-here horror movie. It is well-acted, nicely atmospheric and has an intriguing set-up.

However, THE VISITOR doesn’t seem to know where to go once the big reveal happens. It continues, but ends with more of a whimper than a bang.

Londoner Robert Burrows (Finn Jones) and his wife, Maia Eden (Jessica McNamee), move back to Maia’s childhood home in the small U.S. Southern town of Briar Glen.

Maia has inherited the house after the death of her father. It’s not surprising that everybody is happy to see Maia after her years away. It is a little odd, though, that the townsfolk are all quite so excited to see Robert, greeting him like an old friend.

Robert at first chalks this up to Southern hospitality. But then, while exploring the house – which looks like it hasn’t changed much since the ‘50s – Robert discovers a painting of a man that looks very much like him. There’s a plaque underneath the artwork, with a title: “The Visitor Accepts.”

Maia insists that the resemblance is slight, but then Robert finds a photo from a different era of another man who also looks just like him, with another caption referring to “The Visitor.”

Robert becomes obsessed with seeking out more images and the meaning behind them, while Maia becomes more vocal about resenting his fixation.

There are some hints as to where all this is heading early on, though director Justin P. Lange and writers Adam Mason & Simon Boyes keep us curious for a good while.

The characters are a bit underwritten, so it helps that Jones is good company. His reactions are entertaining, and he handles the script’s varied demands with dexterity. McNamee has conviction as Maia, and Dane Rhodes makes an impression as the town’s folksy preacher.

There are a few things missing from this picture (pardon the pun). One of the biggest gaps is that it turns out that there’s no mythical reason for the Visitor to look like Robert. Something huge is going on here, and the resemblance is a clue for him, and for us, but the filmmakers haven’t figured out why it’s important in the scheme of things. It’s a catchy hook, but there’s no moment where everything snaps cleverly into place.

By the end, THE VISITOR will remind audiences of a few other, older films. It’s not a bad genre piece to see once, but it’s not solid enough to invite a return visit.

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