The Visitors

Marion Zetland, 54, has never married, held a job or moved from the family home, where she lives with her domineering older brother, John. Although she rooms in the attic, Marion can hear the screams coming from the basement she has never been allowed to enter. John keeps that level padlocked, as did their father before him. 

Catherine Burns's debut, The Visitors, is dark and atmospheric, and its imagery is quite evocative, perhaps owing to the former bond trader's studies at the Moscow Institute of Film and her later position teaching film theory at Salford University. Through vignettes from Marion's point of view, Burns slowly layers morbid details as she unravels the disturbing Zetland history.

Marred by bullying, John's violent tendencies and family power struggles, Marion hides within dark, ill-fitting clothing, takes comfort in stuffed animals and hears the voice of her chastising mother in her head. As she caters to John and cedes to his authority, Marion shuts out what's going on around her and daydreams of alternate lives with a loving family.

When circumstances change and Marion is forced to confront what's in the basement, the shift in power creates an imbalance with dreadful consequences. Burns is a fantastic writer and her work builds wonderfully, the morbid settings vividly informing her character profiles. Although it has the earmarks of a traditional thriller and is fraught with tension, The Visitors is more akin to a fascinatingly detailed study of lives at their bleakest. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

Powered by: Xtenit