Takashi Miike's Fedoh and Odishon were both considered very extreme examples of Japanese art-house cinema, featuring graphic violence and shocking imagery that are not just there for shock value, but to instead provoke a response from the audience, and serve as an effective means to deliver Miike's usually basic moral lesson. Think of it as tough love cinema.
With Visitor -Q, Miike's target is the family unit, his weapon, a digital camera, and his ammunition is virtually every taboo topic from incest and rape to murder and necrophelia. Oh, and did I mention this was a comedy?
Kiyoshi Yamakazi (Endo) is a journalist whose reputation was ruined during an assignment on teen violence, whereupon he was attacked and had his own microphone shoved into his nether-regions (and, yes, Miike shows us this). He suffers a breakdown of sorts and seeks to redeem himself by coming up with a story based around his identity as a father. The problem is, his family is a mess. His oldest child is a prostitute, his son a menacing bully who beats his mother as a result of the beatings he takes at school, and his wife is a junkie who funds her habit turning tricks by day. When Kiyoshi is returning from a visit (THAT kind of visit) to his prostitute daughter, he is struck on the head by a man known only as the Visitor (Watanabe), and takes him into his home. The Visitor begins to work his way into the family's bizarre life and, in the most destructive and horrific of ways, helps them to come together again as a unit.
Miike's Visitor-Q is the best film I have seen this year. It is not a horror movie, but has some very horrific moments, and, while they are played for VERY dark laughs, they are nonetheless unsettling. Upon first viewing I was speechless. A second watch helped me to get over the shocks and delve deeper in Miike's story, and it's a touching and beatiful one, buried just beneath a layer of images so over-the-top and visceral that one may miss the bigger, or, in this case, smaller picture.
Shot in an ultra-intrusive digital Dogme style, the film translates beautifully to DVD, and Tokyo Shock's presentation is simply gorgeous. They've even packaged it in a cardstock slipcase and duo-fold that perfectly compliments the Chimera release of Audition (it would be so cool if all of Miike's films were released this way!). Sadly, no film-specific extra material was made available for this very important piece of cinema, but for now this is the best transfer of the film available for the home market.
A brilliantly dark and disturbing satire, but with an underlying tenderness that comes to fruition in the films beautiful closing scene, Visitor-Q is an experience you will not soon forget.