Lee Grant, William Shatner, and Michael Ironside star in Visiting Hours though one can honestly say that this was a vehicle for Ironside more than anything else. It begins with a woman named Deborah on a talk show discussing the rights of a woman who defended herself against her abusive husband, unaware that as she is doing so she is angering a killer, the clearly deranged Colt Hawker at home. From that point on, Colt decides to stalk and kill Deborah, maiming and murdering along the way until he finally gets what he wants as Shatner’s character Gary does nothing but wander around looking worried.
While there is nothing new, fresh or all that exciting with the movie, other than Ironside’s electric performance it is not unenjoyable, there being at least enough suspense and blood to keep the audience watching until the end. One does have to give the killer a little credit, for though he might be a little too focused on killing Deborah, he is at least a little clever about it at times, specifically the end sequence where he creates diversions to draw the hospital staff away from her. As for the rest of it, the story is bare-bones and with the plot being as minimalistic as possible. Sometimes it works
and sometimes it does not and if it had just tightened up a few things here and there it would have been a better film overall and yet, it is hard to find it all entertaining as Ironside goes about the business of hunting down the woman on his mind. Additionally, perhaps not wasting one of the cast’s stronger players in Shatner would have been a good thing.
If there was a real downside to it all, it was Shatner essentially doing nothing except a little chitchat here and there with Deborah and being in scenes where perhaps he should or should not have been. On the other hand, if the filmmakers had simply removed Shatner, it would have given more focus to Ironside which would have been a bonus so as to not take any of the spotlight away from him. Grant was good as the damsel in distress and fairly believable but overall the picture rested on Ironside’s shoulders as the villain and the man played it to perfection. In a supporting role and perhaps better than most in the movie was Linda Purl who would play a nurse and one of the only victims to survive Colt’s attacks.
Watching this, there are some genuinely creepy moments, particularly when Colt is doing what he is doing and even more so when his victims are dying and he is taking photographs of them which always makes the villain seem even more sick and twisted. The hospital setting works extremely well for a slasher, though just why it is so empty is a little strange, especially after the moment when it was put on alert that Colt might be in the building. In the end, though it might not have been the greatest of all horror films and a slasher with little originality to it, it should please those who enjoy the genre and Ironside specifically.
3 out of 5