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After six months at sea on an unassisted solo circumnavigation, Georgia Perry's 44-foot sloop is becalmed for several days. Cabin fever sets in, and the border between fact and fantasy begins to distort. But if these are just tricks of the mind, how do these encounters leave Georgia with physical manifestations? Written by
A confident young Australian lady Georgia Perry is attempting to sail around the world solo (although her cat Taco is there for the ride too) on her 38-foot-yacht Leander. But the wind has fallen and now she's stuck adrift in a foggy stretch of the Indian Ocean. It's against the spirit (and rules) to use the engines. So she keeps herself occupied by using her two-way radio. However several days have past and her situation is the same, but Georgia's deprived mind is starting to play tricks on her. Where dreams turn into delusions and emotional scars of the past seem to plague her aboard the ship. From talking to her cat to encountering pirates. Now she's trying her best to depict what's a real threat and what's not.
Richard Franklin's "Visitors" is a broodingly ambitious exercise, but because of a terribly flawed Everett Deroche's screenplay (which mixes a variety film's premise together), it becomes one hell of a bumpy sea ride on calm waters. The film plays out like a psychological mood trip, where the alienation of the lone protagonist is beautifully illustrated and manipulated by Franklin that it brings us into her universe (or mind-set). In doing so it makes the ever-increasing delusions and stark reality hard to distinguish. Now who's real? Was it in her head? Or was she payed a visit by spirits? This ambiguity is never quite cleared up. Franklin being a true fan of Hitchcock manages transport that factor to the screen with slick finesse and good timing by stacking one sudden, but effectively subtle jump after another that heavily relies on the anxious intensity and implied sounds. However at times the unnaturally forced script (mostly the family / love life drama side of the story) is hard to digest and can take away from the ominous build up with poor inclusions that only muddle or hinder the atmosphere and narrative. The fear and feelings that are cooked up in the jerky material can be an up and down experience. It just lacks some bite and becomes incredibly too light within its cleansing context that its leads to a blandly unfulfilling payoff.
It's tautly penned out and unpredictably captivating in spots, but it's the arresting visions, Nerida Tsyon-Chew's hauntingly melancholy music score and a suitably acute lead performance by Radha Mitchell that does the job. Mitchell manages to capture all the emotions and portray them in a well-balanced and visually genuine performance that creates empathy. Susannah York who plays Georgia's mother has some striking scenes and manages to give a thoughtfully well layered, but quite chilling performance. Ray Barrett brings a lot hear to the role of Georgia's father Bill. Another well-done element was Ellery Ryan's effortlessly novel cinematography that set up the atmosphere and disorienting air exceptionally well. Even the screeching sound effects and shadowy dark lighting adequately comes together in certain jittery set pieces.
Simply an okay feature highlighted by some impressive aspects and its eerie tone, but with a stronger screenplay it could've been a promising foray rather than a scratchy one.
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