‘The Visitor’ Brings New Meaning to Downer Horror

Thriller keeps us guessing until fateful revelations sink an already soggy story

“The Visitor” turns the old saw, “you can’t go home again” on its head.

The thriller follows a couple returning to the bride’s hometown only to run into a complication. Some how, some way, the groom may have lived there before.

Or someone who looks just like him.

Confused? That’s part of the film’s early charm. Except the more we learn, the less we’re engaged by the disappointing shocker.

THE VISITOR | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies

Robert (Finn Jones) and Maia (Jessica McNamee) ditch London to be closer to her Southern roots. They made the decision together and both seem at peace with the move until Robert finds something unsettling in their new home.

An oil painting, hidden away but in fine shape, features a man who looks very much like Robert. It’s a coincidence at worst, a funny story to share with others at best.

The strange happenings don’t end there.

The town folk greet Robert like a returning high school athlete or war hero. The southern hospitality is flattering, and then weird, until he sees another painting with his likeness on it.

What’s behind the paintings? And can simple kindness explain the locals’ affection for their new neighbors?

The couple in play brings plenty of baggage to their new home. They’re still reeling from a recent miscarriage, and her father’s death delivered a second emotional blow.

“The Visitor” is in no hurry to spill its secrets, but it’s hardly mesmerizing along the way. Scares are few – most involve disturbing dreams, an exhausted horror trope – and Maia’s frustration at Robert’s painting obsession is hardly edge-of-your-seat fare.

Can you blame him?

Supporting players add some texture, but it’s hardly enough to sustain our curiosity. Even the local clergyman (Dane Rhodes) offers little save boiler-plate prayers. We eventually get Mr. Expository Man, but even he lacks all the answers.

What is the secret behind “The Visitor?”

The final act should be unnerving, but director Justin P. Lange (“The Seventh Day”) unveils the final pieces without setting any new thrills in motion. The mood isn’t the problem. There’s some de factor haunted house creeps, shocking dreams and an unnerving sense that Robert is in some sort of peril.

It’s still not engaging in the way most thrillers deliver.

The film’s resolution offers enough to absorb without giving every last secret away, but it’s one of the most dissatisfying third acts in recent memory.

HiT or Miss: “The Visitor” offers an original premise and a solid leading turn, but the thrills never accumulate and the ending is a dud.


  1. You are reading too much into this and you are wrong: it is a cliche before a metaphor. There is no depth, or universality to the theme. The folks in the movie are devil worshippers who already know the devil exists. They aren’t looking for “someone” to fill the “void.” They are looking for the man in the movie (they already have his photo). The Robert character has no choice and never attempts to make one. And what cruddy small town would be exhaust itself with joy for 200 years over a fallen Angel if all he got to give them is the cruddy town with a couple of nice houses? The end of the movie start talking “prophecy” in the last 10 minutes but there is none really given. The photos of “great evil” are lame. Hitler = Ghadafi? Very weak. Should have shown him at Club 54 ( to show some lusty debaucery the townsfolk might have enjoyed along the way).or spiced it up. The preacher thing is just stereotypical prejudice against religion at best. And what Southern town has no black people except one well off shop keeper? Weak movie and, whatever genera this film is listed as, it is not a thriller.

  2. For me, “The Visitor” is clear … if I’m not wrong, it’s a metaphor about that deep anthropological need of some group, at certain point of the history, to have a leader … that extremism that create a leader, a strong symbolic figure so powerfull that will be the one that “finally” will change the reality and bring the justice, the “eden”. In fact in the movie the visitor is a repetition, in the human history … that appear near to bad events or bad people.
    So, for the author, never will end this sickness: that human extremism which seems a religious believe, or is directly connected with this… is the real horrorific element of the movie and of the reality.

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