Movie Review: Visitor Q

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2001/Japan
Director: Takashi Miike

(this article originally appeared in Rue Morgue #33, May/June 2003)

“Some things are truly strange, states the main character of Visitor Q, just before he has sex with the dead body of his murdered lover. Visitor Q gleefully shatters boundaries and taboos. Incest? Check. On-camera lactation? Got it. Necrophilia? Yup. Prostitution, drug addition, anal rape? Visitor Q has them all. And thought it can be a difficult film to watch at times, it all wraps up with a perverse family values message.

Visitor Q follows a disgraced former TV news journalist who is anally raped on-camera with his own microphone. Since then, he’s lost his job and his self-esteem; his daughter becomes a prostitute; his son is bullied at school and beats his mother who is a heroin addict and uses prostitution to pay for her habit.

In the middle of all this, a strange man moves in with the family. This figure, the titular Visitor Q, may be a spirit or a man but his presence prods the family to resolve their troubles. In an attempt to get back on the air, the father begins working on a documentary on bullying, focusing on his son and himself. He films his son being beaten up by school bullies; he has the visitor tape the rape and murder of his former lover; he tapes himself having sex with her dead body.

Shot on video for seedier, harsher effect, Visitor Q calls to mind the boundary-pushing films of the 70s, notably Cannibal Holocaust. But where that film is pure exploitation, Visitor Q takes the time to satirize and critique both the Japanese family and media-obsessed cultures generally.

As with any Miike film, there are also large does of humor, particularly as the problems plaguing the family are resolved through murder, necrophilia, and dismemberment. After all, it’s a rare film in which broken marriages are repaired by a husband and wife sharing the task of sawing apart dead bodies.

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