Horror film? Check. Found Footage? Check. Old people are the “monsters” of the movie? Check. M. Night Shyamalan directing? Check. It sounds like it supposed to be another disaster from the man who brought you The Last Airbender (*shudders), but to my utter and sincere surprise……
It was okay
That’s both saying a lot and not saying much for a Shyamalan film. You want to feel good that Shyamalan for once made a somewhat decent film, but come on! The man has been on a losing streak for the past decade at least. Even a “meh” film would have fared better
But as I said before, this film lands on “okay”. Let me guide you to my (and my sister’s) thoughts throughout the movie:
We follow aspiring documentary film maker Becca (Olivia Dejonge) and aspiring wannabe rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) as they decide to pay a visit to the grandparents they never met because of the strained relationship between them and their mother Paula (Kathryn Hahn). Olivia wants to film the whole experience to hopefully submit it for film festivals and maybe a Oscar nomination (Oh….kids lol). The grandparents, Doris (Deanna Dunagan) and John (Peter McRobbie), appear heart warmed to see their grandkids, but as luck will have it, some things are going bump in the night. Weird noises appearing during sleep hours, grandma’s acting weird and grandpa’s acting paranoid. Let the hijinks begin!
Let’s start with the actors. Kathryn Hahn does a great job grounding the story for a such a minimal role. While the kids are at their grandparents house, Paula is on a vacation cruise with a new love interest and can only talk via Skype. Olivia and Tyler are great as the curious siblings who try to investigate the weird occurrences that happens after 9:30 pm and try to “survive” the week (in both senses of the word). Deanna and Peter are creepy if sometimes awkward as the grandparents who might or might not be hiding something from the kids and the neighbors
Let me take a brief pause and say that this film is not Shymalan’s “return” to greatness. The Visit is not The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable, it’s a little like Signs but with logic that actually works (Seriously though! Why would hydrophobic aliens come to a planet that is 70% water????). My sister had a pretty good grasp on the movie, as it made her feel “mixed” and I agree with her. It has it’s moments, but there were a bunch of times that I questioned the directional choices Shymalan made. At one point, I thought of it more as a waters down horror movie, that contains some scares that often get obscured by the other story elements. In my opinion, there was a little too much “free-styling” on Tyler’s part and Olivia expressing her cinematic techniques of the “documentary” makes it sound like Shymalan trying to tell us that he still knows what filmmaking is.
For a horror film, there a bunch of comedic moments stuffed in there. I appreciated it to some extent as some of the jokes fell flat or were too awkward for my (and the audiences) taste.
And now, what most of you might be expecting in any Shymalan film: The twist
I’m glad to say that for once, it doesn’t make the film fall flat on it’s face. In fact, it pushes the film further and makes sense. I actually managed to predict it, but it didn’t take away it’s effect. Without spoiling it, all I will say is that the twist definitely heightens up the creep factor.
Overall, I liked the film for trying to take a seemingly ridiculous plot and actually giving it some scares. The found footage gimmick is actually put to good use and the performances give the film its depth, humor and fear for some of these character’s well being.
Most likely to love it: Fans of goofy horror films
Most likely to hate it: The elderly