The Visit – 2 out of 5
For a few years now, I’ve come to dread any product that has M. Night Shyamalan’s name attached to it—actually “dread” isn’t the best word. I’ve come to flat-out FEAR anything with his name attached to it. Sure, The Happening provided some great laughs but his other films have been damn near painful to sit through. It was a horrible fall from grace to see the man who impressed me with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and even Signs fall to the levels of making things like The Village, Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender and After Earth. I was conflicted about watching Wayward Pines because the commercials for it looked fantastic but seeing his name worried me. However, I really enjoyed the show and thought that maybe he would be returning to what he once was. So, is The Visit a return to his epicness (totally a word) that was Haley Joel Osment seeing dead people or is it something more akin to Mark Wahlberg eyeing an old lady’s lemon drink?
|Suddenly, Wahlberg's shitty delivery in The Happening doesn't seem so bad.|
Two siblings; Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), are in for a vacation with their grandparents. For some reason, Becca thinks that filming the whole stay like a documentary will help heal the relationship between her grandparents and her mother (played by Kathryn Hahn) but her film takes a turn for the strange as she starts to document odd behavior from Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). Both claim they are just getting older and more forgetful but the behavior starts to become more and more frightening and the whole visit no longer seems like an innocent little family trip and might turn far more deadly.
|Old people are scary and dangerous. Suddenly those death panels that were promised|
by Obamacare don't sound so bad.
Right off the bat, this film loses points for being a “found footage” feature. Like so many “found footage” films, the reason for the filming is your typical “I wanna make a movie” excuse and that is already the first sign that I’m not seeing Shyamalan at his most creative but rather at his lowest, where he’s dragging the bottom of the barrel and throwing out any excuse to try and be creative. At no point does this “found footage” element assist the story or make it more captivating. Instead, it just filled the movie with the same annoyances and problems that come from this element and made for the entire film to feel tedious and incapable of building any sort of momentum.
|You don't get to Cobain your way out of this movie.|
(That might be the most offensive joke I've ever put in this blog.)
Gaining traction and building momentum is a huge problem with this film because it clearly can’t tell if it wants to be a horror movie or a comedy and it really can’t blend the two. Occasionally, The Visit will have some truly creepy moments but they are always ruined by a jump to some truly cringe-worth comedy moments. This terrible blend also makes the underlying mystery of what is happening to Nana and Pop Pop is a bit uninteresting because I just couldn’t invest in the story. Not to mention that the mystery is pretty obvious due to Shyamalan’s incessant need to throw in painfully obvious red herrings. This poorly mixed tone and “found footage” element causes the entire story to drag and drag a lot.
|One of the very few creepy moments in the film. But don't worry, Shyamalan|
manages to ruin it with a bad joke moments after it happens.
|The brother is annoying and the sister is pompous|
and snobby. Way to write characters I could actually
care about, Shyamalan.
On the performance side, I really enjoyed Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as Nana and Pop Pop and found them to be very endearing and unnerving at the same time. Without a doubt, they were the strongest aspect of this otherwise very lackluster work of horror and/or comedy—I would hesitate to call it a dark comedy because of how sloppy the tones are presented. I wasn’t a fan of the performances from Kathryn Hahn, Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould. They never felt real and all their lines were too often delivered in a very cheesy and hammy way. Matters were not helped with the fact that most of their dialogue was written in a horrible unrealistic way and it ultimately made for a group of characters that were impossible for me to sympathize with.
|That is a smile of a person who looks like they were blackmailed into being in a |
M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Early on in the film, The Visit has a couple of genuinely creepy moments but those moments are quickly lost to extremely weak comedy that never truly feels like it belongs. There was a time that Shyamalan’s creativity could have been utilized extremely well and might have been suitable for the subgenre of “found footage” horror but his glory days feel like they are long gone and what was delivered was a cliché “found footage” feature that delivers really nothing new and wallowed within a boring story complete with an uneven tone. Still, it’s a lot easier to sit through than some of his other films.