As a reviewer, it’s easy to distinguish a good short film from a great short film based on the amount of content you have to write after your viewing. You could easily say “hey, good job!” and move on to the next screener at your desk or you can go into a whole subjective and objective assessment. Mark Palgy’s THE VISITOR is going to be the latter. Proudly filmed in Kentucky and presented by Enjoy Cult Classics, this 7-ish minute title from Death Race Productions will see several screenings this month including Salt Lake City’s FilmQuest and Ottumwa’s Halloweenapalooza. Having finished my at-home watch, I can see why festival directors are interested in having THE VISITOR show at their theaters. A silent movie guided by subtitles, THE VISITOR takes the simple story of a man going to a remote location to finish his next novel and turns it into a disturbing encounter. I’m not willing to share anymore details after that as to steer clear of spoilers.
Directed by Mark Palgy, based on the script he wrote with Lindsey Palgy, THE VISITOR was produced by Mark and Cory Popp. Cory also served as cinematographer with Mathias Hilger as editor. This team really came together to tell an increasingly bizarre story boasted by 80’s/90’s music and classic horror style. THE VISITOR is an artistic and experimental dive into the damned, and it’s honestly one of the first original stories I’ve seen this year. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen a narrative like this one tackled at all. It starts with a sense of hurry, quickly establishes a bond and future suspense plot-point, and then brings in the horror elements with a slight tinge of science fiction and dark drama. It gives the emotion and depth power-punch of a feature length film all in the course of 6-7 minutes. Clearly Mark’s years working in big Hollywood (Grandma’s Boy & The Last Song) have taught him how to deliver a finalized project that’s successful from start to finish.
I’m trying to be a fair judge, but THE VISITOR is kind of perfect just the way it is. It’s gritty and weird and nostalgic and thinks outside the box. And I’m a sucker for a pretty aerial shot and scenic view, and for being shot in Kentucky – this film has plenty! Not that it’s a complaint, but I’m left with a few questions. What bought the writer to that specific cabin in the first place? Did he know some of the consequences before-hand? What happens after the visit in the months to come? How was the main surprise pulled off, a trick of the camera or with a mask? Any title that leaves me wanting more, whether it’s screen content or answers in general, means the director, writer and producer collaborative team delivered a project that is fully self-actualized. THE VISITOR may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but any indie fan willing to give it a fair shot is going to be surprised. Also, I keep thinking the movie poster is Thor… Final Score: 9 out of 10.