PLOT: At the behest of their analyst, a young couple decides to reunite the family by videotaping their household activities 24/7. They soon learn their son is haunted by a menacing presence known as The Night Visitor.
REVIEW: Not to be confused with the far superior 1971 Swedish horror film of the same name - THE NIGHT VISITOR marks the directorial debut AITH fav Jennifer Blanc-Biehn. Sadly, it shows, as the suffocating budgetary constraints (roughly $100,000), single-location and overall home-video quality yield little more than an ersatz PARANORMAL ACTIVITY/INSIDIOUS crib. Really, there isn't a whole lot to recommend here, save for the at times convincing leading turn of Brianne Davis and possibly the raw sex appeal of some gal named Vedette Lim. Otherwise, like your annoying ass alarm clock, you'd be wise to ignore THE NIGHT VISITOR and roll back to sleep!
Less of a typical three-act narrative and more of a one-act short film stretched out to 65 minutes - THE NIGHT VISITOR is severely mired by its own limits. It has nowhere to go, physically and narratively. As we open, we meet Jen (Brianne Davis), Cochran (Gary Cairns) and their young son Ricky (Hudson Pischer). At odds over Cochran's sexual infidelity, the two parents seek the advice of a new-age-hippy-dippy therapist who thinks placing hidden video-cameras around the house is a good way to keep things open and honest. Well, this sets up the technical aesthetic of the film...as we now have a legit reason to feature low-grade, hand-held, security-style footage throughout the film. You know...still shots of a kid's bedroom a night (bathed in blue of course), a silent hallway, or an empty corridor...all the while with a date and running timestamp in the upper and lower corners of the frame. Yeah, it's one of those movies, and a pretty abysmal one at that.
As the footage mounts, it becomes clear to Jen and Cochran that their little boy is plagued by a menacing presence every night. But why? Who is the night visitor, and why is he out to torment Ricky? Unfortunately, little Hudson Pischer gives a thoroughly unconvincing performance, so even if such questions were answered, or such haunting encounters were scary (which they aren't even a little bit), it'd be hard to buy what the kid is going through. This is no Danny Torrance we're talking about here, despite the not so subtle attempt (amalgamated with say Carol Anne of POLTERGEIST). As things turn out, the whole family starts to become increasingly possessed by the mysterious night visitor. But to what end? And why do we care if Maroon 5 (Cairns) gets scraped up while things go bump in the night? Even Jen's friend Fanny (Vedette Lim), who comes over to study, falls prey to the sinister spirit in the house. How it all wraps up, with an appearance from the great Michael Biehn no less, I'll leave up to you to decide if it's worth seeing.
Here's what is worth seeing. Brianne Davis. She carries the film almost single handedly, and while her performance is uneven at times, she's the most dependable actor in the film. For the most part, she's believable, and it's nice to see her given an opportunity to show a vulnerable side opposite her sexy, younger Ellen Barkin energy she normally flaunts. Also, as crass and crude as it sounds, my favorite parts of the film are when Blanc languishes in the lurid, lounges in the lewd. For long stretches too, almost as if a failsafe or last resort. Faux sex-tape action, a little strip-tease here and there, and of course, Vedette Lim's thigh-high fishnets...that's where my attention was held the most. Now, am I a sex-crazed perv? Most certainly. But does that mean I'm wrong, don't think so.
So yeah, THE NIGHT VISITOR isn't terribly inspiring. On any level. It does have a few moments of interest peppered throughout, but it really just feels like one long, painful slog of a first-time short film. Which is a shame, because, listen, I like this crew. I really do. I gave solid reviews to both THE VICTIM (directed by Michael Biehn, starring he and Jen) and AMONG FRIENDS (starring Jen and Brianne, directed by Daniel Harris), and most certainly want to see Blanc direct another picture. But like any good filmmaker, she needs more resources, a better script, more established actors (aside from Davis) and a more original premise. From its namesake on, THE NIGHT VISITOR has none of those things.