Visitor Q (2001)

Visitor Q

Director: Takeshi Miike

Stars: Ken’ichi Endo, Kazushi Watanabe, Shungiku Uchida

One of the sickest films of all time

A lot of people joke about Visitor Q being a family film and being a good film to watch with your whole family, but the funny thing is that I really did watch this film with my whole family! Mum, Dad, sister and even dog sat down to watch this with me and we all made it through to the end. We all had very different reactions. My Dad called it something along the lines of “sick crap” and wondered why I would buy this sort of thing. My Mum was more understanding, but thought it was just a film to shock its audience. My sister was just plain confused, and I’m pretty sure my dog fell asleep! Visitor Q is not a film for everyone. You either ‘get’ this sort of thing or you don’t. I think Visitor Q is the type of film you can’t really judge until you know what it was trying to say. It’s very easy to say “this is just a mindless, sick piece of work. Chuck it on the bonfire!” but knowing Takeshi Miike, like I sort of do, Visitor Q has much more to say beneath its disturbing and perplexing surface.

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The film opens with one of the most disturbing scenes in the whole film. It’s an explicit (but blurred) sex scene between a father and his daughter. The scene feels like it’s going on forever and it’s extremely uncomfortable to watch. Thankfully it’s not entirely clear at first that the two are related (I thought it was a man and a prostitute by the way they were communicating) until there’s mentioning of her Mum and her allowance. It sets the tone for the film.

Visitor Q feels like a series of increasingly effed up events within a strange and thoroughly dysfunctional family. Miike addresses every taboo in the book and it’s not an easy watch. Some of the more alarming taboos are played for laughs though, which makes it a little easier to watch, but it just comes across as plain weird! Visitor Q is a seriously deranged film and just about matches Gozu in terms of absurdity. I’m still not entirely sure in what it all means, but some have pointed to the visitor as being the viewer, which is an interesting take.

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The film looks extremely low budget. It has been given an alarming sense of realism thanks to the documentary style in which it has been shot. It looks grainy and cheap, but it suits the film well. It’s devoid of the Hollywood gloss we constantly see in mainstream films, which makes everything seem all the more disturbing. Visitor Q is extremely slow to begin with and is even a little boring sometimes, which is a shame. Thankfully though there are some funny moments to keep you going and the final half hour is pretty much non-stop footage of disturbing behaviour.

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I don’t really know if I liked it or not, but it’s certainly something I’ll never forget. I was hoping for something more because people always rave about it, but is that just because it dares to break so many taboos in 80 minutes? Visitor Q is a film for people with open minds and those people who only watch Hollywood movies should stay well clear of this. It’s sometimes tedious, but always disquieting. I would’ve liked more character development around the family because they really are an interesting lot. I wouldn’t recommend watching it with your family though like I did. It does get a little awkward!

sevem out-of-ten

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