This quiet low budget fantasy is a strangely agreeable cross between a tourism promo and a serious thriller. It's filmed in Calgary, Alberta's Heritage Park, a pioneer village of transplanted historical buildings from around the province, and set during the winter when this tourist site is closed and deserted, and very eerie. A history major (Pia Shandal) takes up residence in a Victorian mansion where she hopes to research her thesis on 19th century life... and gets more than she bargained for when she slips through a crack in time. She finds herself in 1890s Calgary and, in a very logical approach to the time travel theme, is completely unhinged by the culture shock of it. Very ordinary and decent folk from long ago become creatures of menace, as this 70s-modern woman is unable to conceal her total alienation from their way of life, and is considered a dangerous lunatic.
The film doesn't fully explore its dramatic and comic possibilities, and it's marred by an abrupt and unresolved ending, but has mood and atmosphere that linger in the imagination. Seldom seen since the 70s, "The Visitor" is due for a modest revival-- an ideal CRTC quota item for one of the Canadian movie networks, and one with some actual cult appeal.
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