Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Running Time: 94 minutes
M. Night Shyamalan has returned with something new and I'm sure most audiences have low expectations for his newest release. Although, I hope there are a few people out there who still feel at least a bit optimistic about it or even him.
Becca is filming a documentary about her family and has the opportunity to visit her grandparents for the first time with her younger brother Tyler. Once they arrive at their grandparents' home, they get to visit and experience their mother's childhood in her hometown, while learning about their grandparents. During their first night there, Becca becomes curious about their grandparents' night time behavior and decides to investigate with Tyler.
Once they played an alternate commercial for this movie on TV, I was a little worried that this would be another found footage/first person point of view movie and...it is. Sitting in the theater with my friend, a sudden sense of dread fell upon me when that concept was confirmed. I haven't had the best of experiences with the genre and the only two movies I would genuinely recommend from it is [REC] and its American remake Quarantine. Aside from that, I just don't understand the hype in such a cheap method of filming. I did manage to push the dread and negativity that comes with the found footage knowledge of the genre and kept my mind open to what Mr. Shyamalan was going to do with his latest project. Before seeing this movie, I read that Shyamalan made 3 versions of this movie: one that is a pure comedy, one that is a pure horror, and one that combines both genres. The finished product ended up being the third option, which I think ended up being the best choice.
From the start of this movie, the mixture of genres was confirmed as we see Becca and Tyler interact with their mother about their trip. The comedy continues as they ride the train as well as when they meet up with their grandparents at the station. As cheesy and sometimes annoying the comedy aspects may be, I didn't find them irritating or off putting. Tyler's rap performances are definitely facepalm worthy, but it felt believable for a kid his age that I could simply roll my eyes at his silly and shallow misogynist lyrics to move on to the next thing in the scene. I can see some people thinking that comedy may be lame throughout the movie, but it breaks up the tension sprinkled throughout the movie and also balances out the horror aspects. The first half of the movie has majority of the comedic moments, the middle starts to introduce the horror and suspense with the comedy on standby, and the final half hits with the strange horror. So, is the horror elements effective? Well...I think so. There's some good suspense built up during Becca and Tyler's various investigations and sometimes you get blindsided by something scary. There's definitely some off putting creepy moments, such as the well known oven scenes and just...anytime Nana is talking or onscreen. Honestly, I found Nana more creepy than Pop Pop. As for the found footage aspect of the film, I thought it was alright. I didn't find myself as annoyed or out of it as I thought I would be. There are some flaws, but for the most part, I thought it was more successful than not. There were definitely some good useful moments to bringing the tension up higher and I enjoyed that it wasn't always handheld, so less motion sickness and headaches from jerky camera movements. It really did feel like a teenager and a child were handling the camera and not some professional. Becca tries to bring in all these technical film points into her documentary that I understand from being a film graduate, which was amusing. Shortly, I enjoyed the characters presented in this movie. Becca has a brain and she made lots of smart decisions that I can believe a girl her age would think of. I really enjoyed her as our main character and director.
I'm sure you're dying to hear what I disliked about this movie. While I did generally enjoy the characters in this movie, at first I immediately found Tyler quite annoying and I didn't care what happened to him. Good thing was that my feelings slowly became more and more neutral towards him as the movie progressed. I think it was his cocky and try hard rapper persona and a bit of his childish ways bothered me from time to time. Fortunately, Becca's maturity balanced out their presentation. I think Pop Pop could've been utilized a little more as an intimidating person in relation to Nana's sweet creepiness. I enjoyed his personality build up, but I feel like we didn't see or learn enough about him in connection to Becca and Tyler's mother. Even though I said that the found footage choice was mostly successful, there were times I did wonder what this movie would look like if it wasn't shot in such a manner. I almost want to say that this choice is a bit of cop-out to getting Shyamalan back into the thriller/horror genre because this sub-genre is currently popular, but...it's kinda true. One moment in particular that was hard to keep up with was the hide and seek scene under the house. It was a little bit of a jumbled mess when Becca and Tyler are running around and vaguely reminded me of running along with the crew in the forest of Blair Witch Project, which isn't a good thing. #AbolishShakyCam2k15 Lastly, this isn't a big complaint for me, but the movie may be predictable for some who do decide to watch it.
The Visit was definitely a surprising film for me. I didn't expect it to be a found footage/first person point of view type of movie, for it to combine horror and comedic elements together, and, most importantly, was quite enjoyable. Of course, this movie doesn't live up to M. Night Shyamalan's earlier works that most fans and moviegoers remember, but it is an improvement from the creative slump and failure he's been experiencing lately. Judging it against other movies in its genre, I did like the found footage aspect of it, despite the shakiness in places. I thought it was utilized well and felt believable for the handler who had the camera. It has some good suspenseful moments and great build up with an equally good payoff. The characters are entertaining and creepy and I enjoyed the comedy, even if some of it was kinda cheesy. If you want something fun and a little creepy, check out The Visit.
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