October 2, 2013

Netflix'ns: Visiting Hours

Another October is upon us. That means it is time to dive in and watch more horror movies than any other time of the year. Yes, horror movies are more than an October thing, but there is something about this time of year, the oncoming chill, the dying of the trees that makes them feel all the more appropriate. With that said, I have scanned my Netflix queue and have found my first choice for he new October, 1982's Visiting Hours.

I had never heard of the movie before, but I was intrigued by the cast that includes both William Shatner and Michael Ironside. You have to admit, those two together in the same movie is a pretty interesting combination, don't you think? It also stars Lee Grant (Shampoo, Peyton Place) and Linda Purl (Matlock, Happy Days, The Office).

The movie came out during the glory years of the slasher film and while this does have slasher elements, it plays out more like a thriller. I suspect this is because of cast caliber. Basically, they attracted a higher profile cast ham your usual drugs and sex loving teens, so they toned down the blood and guts and upped the cat and mouse aspects. It works.

As the movie opens, we are introduced to Deborah Ballin (Grant). She is a news reporter interviewing a lawyer who successfully prosecuted a woman who shot her abusive husband in an act of self defense. It is a judgment that Deborah does not agree with and is not shy about saying so. Her producer (Shatner) is not happy and refuses to air the piece. She is understandably quite upset and storms off to walk home.

While the piece may never air, that doesn't mean people did not see it. In anther room of the studio, the recording is witnessed by a rather unstable individual named Colt (Ironside). He decides to get her attention by going to her house and killing her. This leads to Deborah discovering a naked Colt wearing her jewelry. A chase ensues and Deborah narrowly escapes with her life.

What follows is a tense fight for survival as Colt repeatedly tries to get to her on the hospital where she is recuperating. Another name gets added to Colt's targets as during one of his attempts, he is seen by lovely young nurse Sheila (Purl).

Visiting Hours is effectively tense with a real sense of danger. Sure, some people due stupid things, but isn't that the case in real life as well? No matter how much you say you would do it differently, there is really no way of knowing how you would react.

We get scenes of Deborah trying to explain the seriousness of her situation, only to have it fall on deaf ears. We also get to follow Colt around and get a sense of just how deep his insanity goes. This movie does nothing to hide the identity of the killer, there is no big reveal here. They want you to know who this guy is, how crazy he is, and the lengths he will go to.

It is not a particularly deep film, but it is well executed and paced well. However, what really carries the movie is the performance of Michael Ironside. The man is a complete nut here. He is legitimately scary and if I were to have been on set, I would have kept my distance. Word has it he got the role based on his work in Scanners.

No. Not the nest slasher style thriller, but certainly not one to be ignored.


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