Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie
Directed by: M. Night Shymalayan
Release Date: September 11, 2015
Rated PG-13 for violence, some nudity, brief language
Your favourite director that you love to hate is back. M. Night Shyamalan is very well known for such fine films as “The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”, “Unbreakable”, and “The Village”. However, he has also directed disastrous, critically panned flops like “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth.” His latest writing/directing foray is into the “found footage” genre (think Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project). I will preface this review by saying I am not a fan of found footage. I think it is lazy, monotonous, and a chore to watch. This film is rather unique in that it does have somewhat of a soundtrack (mostly generic piano music and oldies).
The story centers around Becca (DeJonge), a fifteen year old aspiring filmmaker and her nerdy brother Tyler (Oxenbould). Their mother (Hahn) has decided to send them on a trip to see their grandparents, whom they’ve never met, for a week while she takes a cruise with her boyfriend. Quickly the kids realise that Nana (Dunagan) and Pop-Pop (McRobbie) have something seriously wrong with them. Pop-Pop hides used incontinence pads in the shed. Nana crawls the halls and vomits during the night. They both seem paranoid and demented. Will Becca and Tyler escape their clutches before it’s too late?
The child actors in this film are brilliant, likeable, and funny. They really make the film. Of the 94 minute runtime, the first 45 minutes or so are filled with tame thrills and quite a bit of monologuing. The problem with this film is the same problem that plagues many of Shyamalan’s films: once you start thinking about the plot too much, it starts to unravel. It is stated in the beginning that the grandparents live out in the country and they have no cell service or Wi-Fi. Yet somehow, the kids manage to have several Skype sessions with their mother. Also, what kind of mother would send her children to spend a week with her parents she hadn’t seen in over a decade, whom she didn’t get along with? It doesn’t add up. There are also several scenes in the movie that seem to have been thrown in the movie to add cheap scares, like the scene where Nana is shown hovering ominously over a well, but they lead nowhere.
The Visit is more believable as a horror-comedy but it has not been marketed as such. It isn’t until the tail end of the movie where Shyamalan delivers the surprise twist that is his trademark, but by then I just didn’t care anymore. Personally, I found Tyler’s brand of white rap much more entertaining than this scare-less, predictable snorefest.
VERDICT: Skip, if you want to conserve some brain cells and 94 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.