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Visiting Hours/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Visiting Hours
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When Deborah Ballin, a take-no-prisoners female newscaster gives it to a sleazy lawyer who got an abused wife prison time for shooting her pernicious husband, her station manager isn't pleased with her subjective and sensational style of reporting. Deborah brushes off his quips and concerns, believing that their audience will appreciate her honesty and lack of tolerance for domestic abuse. Little does Deborah know that one viewer isn't pleased with her views on the matter and plans on teaching her a lesson about a woman's role in society.

This angry viewer is graciously awaiting Deborah's return home, where he has done some creative redecorating and brutally murdered her housekeeper. Although his attempts on her life initially fail (his stabbings only put her in the hospital), the sociopathic Colt Hawker will stop at nothing to make Deborah pay, even to the point of smashing a glass bottle into his forearm, so that he may be a patient at the hospital right alongside her.

Taking on aspects of psychological thriller and serial killer films, Visiting Hours is a bit of an odd entry into the slasher canon, especially since it eliminates the mystery behind its killer's identity almost immediately.

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This willingness to make the “slasher” the focus may attract interest from those outside of the genre’s fanbase, since it elaborates on the reason behind the killings instead of using a traditional, generic motive (i.e. revenge). The viewer is given a look into Hawker's past through a series of flashbacks depicting Colt's father's physical abuse to his helpless mother. It seems the young man has decided to side with his father, since his mother ran away from the abusive relationship, leaving him behind.

Occasionally, a touch of sympathy can be drudged up for the obviously disturbed young man (who is well-played by Michael Ironside), but any feeling of pathos is washed away when this psycho starts slashing.

As for those slashings, they are not as numbered as most films of the type, but boast some graphic knife penetration (potentially modeled after similar work in the films of Fulci and Argento) and a modest amount of bloodshed. One shocking murder even shows Colt photographing a woman struggling for breath as he manually cuts off her oxygen.

Colt's air of menace is also bolstered by a rather effective score, which utilizes the beeping of an electrocardiogram machine to stir up suspense during the hospital sequences.

It's often quite nice to see a film that takes a step away from the formula and goes out on its own path. Even a hardened slasher buff (myself included) can appreciate a diversion from well-tread clichés, and despite some obvious nods to Halloween II, this well-made and superbly acted suspense film is both inventive and thrilling.

Yet, something keeps it from greatness and I can only imagine that if some of the focus was on the victims instead of solely on the victimizer that the film’s finale would have been scarier and more compelling. I realize that character development isn't really a focal point for slasher cinema, but a character as developed as Colt Hawker deserves cunning prey.

Reviewed by Mdeapo

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