Visitor Q has been a long time coming for yours truly. I’ve followed Takashi Miike’s twisted career from his Audition days to his “Masters of Horror” debauchery, proving with each movie that his name is one to watch. But Miike goes above and beyond in providing fans with the finest in WTF? with Visitor Q. Stepping onto this film’s grounds is to abandon normality and embrace the monsters within its walls.
Family man and failed newscaster Kiyoshi Yamazaki (Ken’ichi Endo) is pinning his future on reality TV. But during his search for the next big media sensation, Kiyoshi meets a visitor (Kazushi Watanabe) who introduces himself by cracking Kiyoshi’s skull with a rock. Inspired to expose family dynamics, Kiyoshi sets his sights on his own dysfunctional clan: violent son Takuya (Jun Muto), prostitute daughter Miki (Fujiko), and junkie wife Keiko (Shungiku Uchida), all of whom fall under the visitor’s inquisitive eye.
Miike’s Visitor Q has met with praise and damnation of equal passion. You could say he’s crafted his own Salò, a movie as many people admire as wish it were never made. Like Salò was to its era, though, Visitor Q is very relevant to our time. While both films play off of the presumption that audiences are desensitized to shocking material, Miike directly addresses the media’s role in the matter. As Pasolini’s captives devoured shit, Kiyoshi is shat on by a corpse, effectively playing a rube onto whom the entertainment industry feels comfy dumping anything and everything. Visitor Q is littered with statements like these, making an absurd mockery of reality television, a cadaver that relieves itself on us in our very own homes.
What scares me most is that Visitor Q, like Eraserhead or even other Miike movies, will make that list of films people watch just because they’re messed up. Miike is an artist, and Visitor Q has much to say. We appreciate his attack on reality TV and the “arts” in general because of how well-rounded it is. Kiyoshi sees himself as innovative for using his family’s severe dysfunction to create what he views as the raw, ugly truth, but making money and being trendy are his main motivations (y’know, like an even more perverted Michael Bay).
The rest of the family spends their time dutifully going through their own unspeakable routines. The wife shoots up, the daughter whores herself out (even to Kiyoshi), the son literally whips his mother — and as strange as it sounds, the visitor brings out even more horrible traits once he walks in. To divulge any info would spoil the film, though those with enough bravery/stupidity can explore for themselves.
Visitor Q’s biggest flaw is that the shock value tends to run a little thick. Miike takes on reality TV to such an out-there level that Kiyoshi’s idea of programming could never exist even in this realm. Every scene feels like it needs to top the previous one, resulting in a numbing effect and the desire to accept every strange sight just to keep pushing the story forward. It’s not a bad film, but it is bogged down by a need to constantly outdo itself.
You can say Visitor Q is a satiric masterwork, and you can dismiss it as inhumane (both of which aren’t altogether false). If your taste and stomach have been prepped for the disgustingly artistic, Visitor Q will never cease to fascinate you.
Check out the trailer for Visitor Q here.
Read A.J. Hakari’s Visitor Q review here.