Visitor Q (2001)

visitorq

Directed by: Takashi Miike

I was reading about Xiu Xiu releasing their latest Music Video on a popular pornographic video sharing website, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to view the said video and saw cute kittens and plenty of the usual content that you might find on such a den of smut. I didn’t make it through the whole video, and for some reason clicking the cross and closing my browser, consumed by self-disgust I began thinking about a Japanese film someone had recommended me a few years ago that I could only watch the first few minutes of before thinking to myself “this is too much”. ‘Visitor Q’ was the name of the movie and I remember that opening scene was decidedly Gonzo, the kind of Sunday morning video you’d watch to get your fix and release some stress. It was pornographic.

It could be said that ‘Visitor Q’ was many years ahead of the curve, way before Lars Van Trier brought pornography to mainstream cinema. ‘Visitor Q’ begins with a question – have you ever done it with you Dad? In a dingy hotel room a Japanese man is bargaining with a prostitute. The scene is all the more claustrophobically disturbing because it is shot on hand held cameras by the participants. It feels grimy and voyeuristic. The man pays one hundred thousand yen act for ten minutes of sex. The prostitute turns out to be his daughter. Second time around I feel the same. Yuck, I feel dirty watching this.

The next question we are asked is – have you ever been hit on the head? This precedes a scene where the man who slept with his daughter is waiting at a train station. A spiky haired lad wearing a red shirt comes along and smacks him on the head with a rock. The third question – have you ever hit your Mom? We are then treated to the sight of a teenage boy whipping his heroin addicted Mother.

No more questions are asked, because from this point things take several turns for the weird. ‘Visitor Q’ is provocative and disturbing, a real test of endurance. Takashi Miike dares you to tap out, to switch off, to walk away. The film is a gruelling feat of endurance that you watch through your fingers, but it is impossible not to watch.

The man, the prostitute, the heroin addicted Mother and the sadistic son are a family. The lad in the red shirt stays at the home. Miike asks us. What would it be like to walk into someone’s door and observe the true goings on? Imagine picking a random house down the road where you live. You walk in through the front door and observe with sociological curiosity. What you see is the uncomfortable reality of people’s private lives. Essentially what Miike is telling us is that most families are fucked up. Of course he does this to the extreme.

Though some consider ‘Visitor Q’ as a black comedy, I was disturbed by the fact that I found the vinegar bathtub scene (I won’t spoil it) laugh out loud funny. I wondered what this said about me.

Films like this need to be watched at the right time. I was eating a lump of mature cheddar during the lactating nipples scene and almost vomited. You really need to take a deep breath, clear ninety minutes out of your schedule and just sit and stare, gawp open mouthed and allow yourself to be stunned. ‘Visitor Q’ makes you feel like you’ve been hit by a rock. It wakes you up, revolts you and then somehow surprises you with a happy ending that will melt even the coldest of hearts.

– RJW

Visitor Q on IMDB

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