Fantastic Fest: Visitors (Complete Edition) (2023)

Director: Ken'ichi Ugana

Running Time: 60 Minutes

Starring: Shiho, Keisuke Nomura, Lloyd Kaufman, Saki Hirai, Haruki Itabashi, Ryuta Endo, Kento Miura, Rii Ishihara

Expanding his 16-minute short film, Vistors, writer/director Ken'ichi Ugana delivers an hour-long version of the story which is called the complete edition. It begins with a trio worrying whether their bandmate is okay after losing contact with him. They make an unannounced visit to his home, only to discover the windows are covered in paper. That strange sight is just the beginning, as an uncomfortable atmosphere lingers inside which contrasts with the bandmate's calm demeanour.

Matters worsen as a demon possesses one of the visitors, leading to circumstances involving punched heads rotating at least 360 degrees, green slime being regurgitated, and much blood being sprayed. Reacting to each moment with utter glee, these demonic entities appear unstoppable within a fascinating work that resembles if The Evil Dead was made by Troma. Ugana leaves little time for set-up, jumping straight into the action to deliver a propulsive feel, although the characterization does feel lacking as a result.

The ensuing film avoids the expected direction for a more intimate look at the increasingly apocalyptic scenario. The domestic setting allows for fun scenes with the demonic creatures, as they communicate in their own language while finding enjoyment in their surroundings, and even allowing viewers to empathize with them.

These home-dwelling demons are not monstrous creatures intent on slaughtering humans, they are inquisitive children who find such joy in life, and even have an adorableness to them. This leads to a touching focus on what is left once those you love have gone, to which the answer is how the joyous memories you once shared remain. It is a heartfelt way to close a unique work, and signals promise for Ugana's future as a filmmaker.

Vistors (Complete Edition) previously played at Fantastic Fest 2023