These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.
Oh, M. Night Shyamalan… you glorious artist of a film-maker you. Giving us such classics like THE LAST AIRBENDER and AFTER EARTH, it’s almost like you were born to be up there with Spielberg and Hitchcock- PFFFT, sorry, couldn’t say that with a straight face. Most of us are very aware of Shyamalan’s career. SIXTH SENSE is and always will be his best work, a lot of people enjoyed UNBREAKABLE and SIGNS well enough, and you’ll hear a few people say they liked THE VILLAGE. Hell, even I can enjoy some of the ideas behind LADY IN THE WATER, but it’s painfully clear that his career went downhill after UNBREAKABLE. Even if you liked SIGNS, you knew it wasn’t better than SIXTH SENSE. Nothing he’s done ever has been. They’ve all been notoriously bad in hilarious ways. Sort of the Hollywood version of Germany’s Uwe Boll (and it’s not a too far off comparison either, as AIRBENDER was an adaptation of a beloved story). If anyone ever sees a Shyamalan movie, they’re seeing it for how bad it is and not holding out for him to make a comeback. As soon as THE VISIT was announced, I snickered, and the trailers seemed awfully hilarious to back up my fun-making, so I knew at some point I’d watch it.
But… much to my, and I imagine EVERYONE’S, surprise… the movie wasn’t being critically molested. In fact, some reviews said while the movie isn’t great, they made it out to be… decent. DECENT??? A SHYAMALAN FILM BEING CALLED “DECENT????” Look, I had a couple drinks last night, but I could have been horking down straight moonshine, there’s not enough alcohol in the world to make me believe that a SHYAMALAN film is decent. But Christ, RottenTomatoes gave it a 62% (as of 9/12/2015), IMDb gave it a 7.0/10 (as of 9/12/2015), and Collider.com gave it a C-, which… yeah, okay, now I’m just straight curious. Hence the ticket purchase.
Cast: Olivia DeJonge (upcoming films STRAY DOGS  and UNDERTOW ), Ed Oxenbould (upcoming films WILDLIFE  and BEING GAVIN ), Deanna Dunagan (the upcoming THE PAGES ), Peter McRobbie (BRIDGE OF SPIES  and Netflix’s DAREDEVIL [2015 – ongoing]), and Kathryn Hahn (BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS , CAPTAIN FANTASTIC , TOMORROWLAND , and the upcoming HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION )
Director/Writer: M. Night Shyamalan (SPLIT , and the upcoming GLASS )
Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti (CHAPPAQUIDDICK , COLLATERAL BEAUTY , and CREED )
Editor: Luke Ciarrocchi (SPLIT, and the upcoming GLASS)
This is my honest opinion of: THE VISIT
15 year old wannabe-film-maker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and 13 year old wannabe-rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are about to visit their grandparents that they’ve never met. This is because their single mother Paula (Kathryn Hahn) in her youth fell in love with a man who would eventually father Becca and Tyler. But he abandons them early on in their lives. While the three of them live happily together, the affair all those years ago left a bitter taste in Paula’s parents mouths. She left at 19 years old to build a life. Well, fast forward to the present day, Paula’s parents reach out to her and ask to meet their grandchildren. While Paula doesn’t want anything to do with them, she agrees that it will be beneficial to the kids, whom also want to meet their grandparents. The entire story is filmed on Becca’s video camera, who wants to document their visit. Upon arrival, they meet them: Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). They are very welcoming and warm to their arrival and everything seems pretty solid so far. Of course, it’s not long before the kids start picking up on some odd behavior. Pop pop hides trash bags in the shed and exhibits extreme paranoid behavior. And then there’s Nana. Nana is the strangest… and the creepiest. After 9:30PM, Nana starts to become confused… disconnected, and psychotic.
I hate to say it, but… the reviews aren’t wrong. This is actually the best movie Shyamalan’s done since SIGNS (is that saying much? I’ll leave it up to you. I love SIGNS, flaws and all). That isn’t to say the movie is good, per se, but it does quite a bit right.
Let’s start with that. First off, the obvious. The acting is good. YES!!! It’s good! The script is a lot more natural this time around as opposed to Shyamalan’s usual shit. Relative newcomers DeJonge (I think this is her first big break… which she had to choose a Shyamalan film for that…) and Oxenbould (of ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY) both pull pretty solid performances. An argument could be made that Becca is a bland character, but she does show layers at certain points, particularly when discussing her biological father. She’s hurt, hateful, sad, she goes through quite a plethora of emotions, which is pretty admirable. Tyler, sure he can be annoying at times, but that’s hardly Oxenbould’s fault. He’s clearly having a lot of fun with a raping character and clearly does have some raping talent for a kid his age. I hope this kid goes places, he’s a riot. Dunagan and McRobbie both portray their characters well, despite an occasional lack-luster script. So I give a thumbs up for the acting. It’s also shot well (maybe a little too well. This is a 15 year old girl filming this, right?), atmospheric, and creepy. All this is pretty spot on.
Now, most everything post-CLOVERFIELD, I haven’t been the hugest fan of found-footage films. Aside from [REC], the genre has overstayed its welcome, mostly because the damn camera keeps shaking and you can’t really see what’s going on. Usually this is because it’s an obvious show of the character running, but it’s annoying. Sure, even the best of found-footage films don’t shy away from this stuff, but at least they don’t hinge too much on it or at least follow characters that we care about so we can easily forget the shaky cam. So I’m a little torn about the chosen style of this movie. To Shyamalan’s credit, the movie doesn’t have too many shaky cam scenes, or none that really spark a seizure. Which makes me wonder… is a found-footage movie really just its own genre? It’s really that style of cinematography that you either don’t mind, or you do. That can be a rant for another time. As for this film, the found-footage style is almost unnecessary. This could have easily been a standard-shot story. Maybe it’s cheaper to do found-footage, I wouldn’t know. This movie was made dirt-cheap. Open for debate.
But now we get into the bad stuff. First of all, I’ve complimented the film on its genuine humor. This is the first Shyamalan film where his so-awful-it’s-hilarious scripts don’t consistently play out through the film. But they are still very present. This is a horror film, and Shymalan forgets that. For example, there’s a scene where Nana is clawing at the walls naked and the audience gets an eye-full of old-lady ass. Again, Oxenbould is hilarious, but the humor is misplaced. The audience is supposed to be disturbed, not laughing. Horror movies, as bad and formulaic as they can be, at least know that the humor and horror are separate. When you mix it in like that, it feels disjointed and once again proves that you can’t take a Shymalan film seriously because he can’t take his own work seriously.
On the whole, this isn’t a good movie, in fact it’s pretty pointless, but it is a step in the right direction for Shyamalan. Now all he has to do is learn his lessons here and maybe we can see a comeback movie from him in the future. I’m staying reserved for now, as this could have been a random fluke, but we shall see. As it stands, not good, but not awful, and the only scary thing about the movie is old-lady ass.
My honest rating for THE VISIT: a weak 3/5