"Sad When the Poster is More Enthralling Than the Film"
Incompetence in almost every department makes this so-called exercise in suspense one dull cookie.The atrocious Visiting Hours has a capable cast and production values above the norm of a typical slasher flick but the story is so miserably developed and the execution so wobbly it elicits more in the way of yawns than palpitations. (It's the ultimate in stalled-out cinematic proceedings.) Lee Grant stars as a television news host who's irked the ire of her share of viewers in her steadfast conviction that a recently-battered woman had every right to defend herself by shooting her husband dead (she rejects the notion that the wife badgered herself to make it look like a justifiable shooting), with one in particular, Michael Ironside, whose childhood consisted of a mother who lashed out against her abusive spouse, setting his sights on her for some gruesome mayhem. He attacks her inside her house though fails (quite unconvincingly) to kill her; she's then transported to a hospital where she awaits minor surgery. The rest of this meandering movie involves Ironside's doggedly-determined efforts to do her in for good. The premise as you've probably surmised by now is more than a bit reminiscent of Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II, but where that movie, however flawed, managed to generate some semblances of suspense by keeping its focus inside its sparsely-populated, late-hours hospital setting, Visiting Hours unwisely cuts back and forth between the hospital and other settings which dissipates the tension rather than conjuring up and sustaining it. The odious screenplay consists of Ironside making a murderous attempt, failing, leaving the hospital, stalking one of the nurses, then returning to make another attempt, so it's no surprise that everything comes off as bloated and inconsequential. And not helping matters is the poor directing that lacks tautness, telegraphs the scares a couple of zip codes away, and fails at shaping the sequences into anything with even a smidgen of organic clarity. Non-slasher fans will be bored by the lightweight characters and idiot dialogue, while slasher fans will be disappointed by the overall lack of gore (something that wasn't missing from Boaz Davidson's trashily entertaining Hospital Massacre). All in all, if Visiting Hours were subject to a diagnosis, it'd be a severe, incurable case of the stupids.Those looking for a good time would be better off watching "Marcus Welby, M.D." instead.