Friday, September 11, 2015
The Visit Review
I don't want to spoil too much of this premise, so I'm just going to let you know the basics. This is a found footage horror movie. Or at least that's what this is labeled as. This felt more like a thriller than a horror, but meh. Semantics. The movie follows two kids who are going to visit their grandparents for a week so that their mom can go on a vacation with this other guy who is not their dad (he left them). The daughter has decided that she is going to make a documentary of this week long trip to Grandma and Grandpa's because the mom is not exactly on good terms with her parents. So she is filming everything and thus we get our found footage angle of the movie. I'll talk more about the found footage aspect of it in a bit. Everything seems all hunky dory at first. The internet isn't very good. They don't have cell reception. But it's just a week at the grandparents. Nothing bad is going to happen, right? Ha ha! Not. We quickly learn that grandma is not quite right in the head. Grandpa tells the kids that bedtime is 9:30 because they are old. So the kids are up in their room, not being tired and suddenly they realize that bedtime is 9:30 because that's when Grandma goes crazy. This is all just the first night at the grandparents. We got a whole week of movie to make it through and I will let the rest of the week be a surprise.
Found footage. Let's talk about that first. This is a genre that was initially clever and unique. I liked it. But then studios realized that it is super cheap to make a found footage movie and thus it got used over and over and over and over to the point where it was no longer clever and unique, but rather was old and annoying. I still love Cloverfield and Chronicle. Those are two excellent movies where found footage was done really well and added to the plot. Cloverfield without found footage would be lame. Chronicle without found footage would've worked, but not quite as well. But now all the recent found footage movies are lame because found footage is useless. Earth to Echo? No reason for the kids to film their footage. Project Almanac? Same thing. These movies actually could've been a lot better without the found footage. Thus I am extremely picky nowadays when it comes to found footage. Did The Visit need to be found footage? No, it didn't. Shyamalan could've done without found footage in this movie and it would've been a bit better I think. But if you decide to do found footage, at the very least do it right. Shyamalan does it right. Some found footage movies will have extra noise and music that wouldn't exist if you made a your own video. That's dumb. This movie didn't have that. Also, a girl deciding to do a documentary of the week at her grandparents' house was a legit excuse to do it. Yes, there were some times where they should've just put down the camera and run. Some footage was also a bit too professional for her age. But overall it wasn't bad.
What really helped this movie do well were the great performances from the whole cast. It was kinda risky for Shyamalan to decide to have his next movie be led by two young kids since his last two movies were kid driven and really sucked. There was actually some decently talented kids cast in The Last Airbender, but Shyamalan's directing efforts made me think that perhaps they should go back to school and pick a different career. But then I see them in other movies and realize that perhaps Shyamalan was the problem. Same thing with Jayden Smith in After Earth. I've seen that kid do well in movies. But his acting was worse than a brick wall in After Earth. So Shyamalan is going to try it again with two more kids in the lead? That's sounds like a bad idea. But for some reason it worked out really well. I'll do a little bit of name dropping here and say that these kids are played by 17-year-old Olivia DeJonge and 14-year-old Ed Oxenbould. I've never heard of Olivia and the only other movie I've seen Ed in is playing Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Great find by the casting director of this movie and great job directing them by Shyamalan. Also the grandparents were fantastic, specifically Deanna Dunagan as Grandma. She was perfect as a lovable Grandma and also perfect as a completely psychotic crazy woman, which made her moments as a lovable Grandma rather terrifying.
Overall, I was rather surprised by M. Night Shyamalan in this movie. If we continue with the belief that M. Night Shyaman was abducted by aliens and replaced with a different Shyamalan that didn't know how to direct movies, we can say here that the original Shyamalan is now back. No, this isn't on par with his best movies that he made early in his career, but following those, movies like The Visit are the movies we all wanted and expected him to make and I am happy that we got him back. When he's on his game, the style of movies that he makes are the style of movies that I personally really enjoy and I really hope he's able to stay back on Earth and give us more movies like The Visit. No, this isn't a scary movie, but it's a movie that does provide a lot of really good thrills and has an intriguing story to go along with that. All of this is made even better by a great cast, led by two young kids and a Grandma that just nail their performances. I thought I was going to hate this movie and I was ready to rip apart Shyamalan once again, but I'm really happy that I'm finally praising Shyamalan once again. My grade for The Visit is an 8/10.