A young husband discovers that a series of old paintings holds a sinister secret in this derivative creeper.
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By Jeannette Catsoulis
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Where would supernatural thrillers be without the small town? Only there can inbred eccentricities bloom and the weird goings-on in Mabel’s back yard remain unremarked upon. The setting is such a cliché that any time we see a big-city transplant grow increasingly aware that his straw-sucking neighbors are acting a bit funny, we’re just waiting for the bonfire in the woods and the upside-down cross.
In that sense at least, Justin P. Lange’s “The Visitor” does not disappoint, and genre fans will have no trouble singing along with the movie’s narrative beats. Robert and Maia (Finn Jones and Jessica McNamee) have arrived from London to settle in Maia’s childhood home in a fictitious American town. Maia’s father has died, further straining a marriage that’s already wobbly from an earlier tragedy. So Robert, at least, is in no mood for a visit to the local pub, where everyone from the forbidding pastor to the too-friendly barmaid is looking at him askance. There’s also the small matter of the oil painting in the attic, a man who’s the spitting image of Robert though, disappointingly, is not called Dorian Gray. He’s called “The Visitor.”
Filmed in and around New Orleans, “The Visitor” isn’t a terrible movie, just a tired one. Stuffed with bugs, frogs, snakes and silly costumes, it trundles along smoothly enough as Robert learns that his likeness has popped up in multiple paintings, once in a Confederate uniform. Maia, though, seems oblivious to the weirdness, basking in her new pregnancy and the attentions of the townsfolk, who are giving off distinct “Rosemary’s Baby” vibes. Yet Robert, ignoring the sudden deaths and obligatory warnings to leave town, is determined to figure things out. The audience, unfortunately, already has.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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