Fantastic Fest 2023: Visitors (Complete Edition) Is a Blood-Soaked Homage to Troma Entertainment

Image provided by Fantastic Fest

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about Visitors (Complete Edition), I had no interest in it. The Fantastic Fest plot synopsis teased that this film was an homage to the (in)famous horror comedy studio Troma Entertainment, and I’m generally not a fan of their work. I didn’t think this movie would be for me, but as I thought about it a bit more, I decided to give it a shot anyway. I figured I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Visitors (Complete Edition) was written and directed by Kenichi Ugana, and it stars Shiho, Saki Hirai, Haruki Itabashi, Ryuta Endo, Keisuke Nomura, and Kento Miura. It’s an expansion of Kenichi Ugana’s 2021 short film of the same name, and it’s a quasi-anthology filled with gore, gags, and fun allusions to some of the best genre movies ever made. However, unlike typical anthology films, the three segments in this one aren’t completely disconnected. They simply take place several months apart, but they tell a single, cohesive story.

That being said, it’s still tough to summarize the plot of Visitors (Complete Edition). The story is all over the place, and truth be told, it feels like little more than an excuse to showcase a bunch of bloody and comedic setpieces. But in broad strokes, the film is basically a series of bizarre interactions between humans and Deadite-esque monsters, and each segment puts its own unique spin on that general premise.

The movie begins with three characters driving to check up on a friend of theirs who’s been MIA for a while, and when they arrive, it quickly becomes clear that something isn’t right. From the moment these people enter the guy’s house, this first segment is very reminiscent of some late 1990s/early 2000s J-horror classics. In particular, the setting and atmosphere immediately call to mind Ju-On: The Grudge, and when the characters finally find their missing friend, his bland, monotone demeanor reminded me a lot of Pulse.

But a few minutes later, this part of Visitors (Complete Edition) quickly morphs into a fantastic riff on The Evil Dead. Some of the characters become possessed and essentially turn into Deadites, and everything from the monsters’ playfulness to the copious amounts of spewing blood calls to mind Ash’s numerous brushes with evil. There’s even a chainsaw here, so if you’re even remotely familiar with the Evil Dead franchise, you can’t miss the homage.

On top of that super fun horror, director Kenichi Ugana also imbues this segment with an equally effective sense of humor. Most notably, the group’s friend seems completely oblivious to everything going on around him, and it makes for some hilarious gags. In fact, I’d even say that this first segment is just about perfect. It works as both a comedy and a horror, so in my opinion, this is hands down the best part of Visitors (Complete Edition).

The Visitors (Complete Edition) poster

After that, the movie jumps ahead three months, and we encounter two strangers who wake up and essentially find themselves in the opening scene of Saw. Their hands and feet are bound, and they have no idea who kidnapped them or how they got there. It’s a pretty intriguing mystery, and at first, it’s not clear what these characters have to do with the monster mayhem we got in the first segment.

But we find out soon enough, and along the way, we’re treated to more blood and laughs coupled with a monstrous twist that I, for one, did not see coming. It’s pretty fun, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of perfection that the first segment achieved. I can’t go into any specifics without spoiling the big surprise, but suffice it to say, this segment is just a little too subdued compared to the first one.

It feels like it’s mostly setup and very little payoff, and while that setup is good in its own right, it left me wanting more. In fact, there’s a moment when it looks like we’re finally going to get the high-octane action that made the first segment so great, but it ends up being little more than a tease. The excitement fizzles out pretty quickly, so at the end of the day, I have to say that this part of Visitors (Complete Edition) is good but not truly great.

The final segment of the film takes place a year later, and it follows a character from the previous segment as he meets and becomes friends with the monsters from the first one. It’s about half of the movie’s runtime, and unfortunately, it’s hands-down the worst part of Visitors (Complete Edition).

See, this segment puts writer/director Kenichi Ugana’s love of Troma front and center, and aside from one really cool scene, it plays all its gore and horror for laughs. What’s more, it also includes some pretty bizarre (and, in my opinion, pretty head-scratching) elements, like a monster who keeps two humans on a leash like dogs and an out-of-nowhere homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, so your enjoyment of this part of the movie will depend entirely on what you think of its Troma-esque comedy.

And like I said before, I’m not a fan of that stuff, so I really didn’t like this final segment. It’s everything I was afraid Visitors (Complete Edition) would be, and since it takes up half of the film’s runtime, it ruined the entire experience for me. However, I know that plenty of people do enjoy these kinds of gags, so if you’re one of them, this movie will most likely be right up your alley. It delivers on the promise of a blood-soaked Troma homage, so you should definitely check it out once it becomes available. But if you’re like me and that style of comedy doesn’t work for you, you should probably just give this film a pass.

Visitors (Complete Edition) had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 24.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

A person with a monstrous appendage sticking out of them

Creepy Crawly Is One of the Year’s Funnest Creature Features

Sri Asih ready to fight

Fantastic Fest 2023: Sri Asih: The Warrior Breathes New Life into the Superhero Genre