One from the to watch pile…
The Visit (2015)
Film: There are two things in modern horror of which I am not a great fan. The first is the so-called ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking. Whilst I appreciate the intention of making films that try to make one believe that they are a part of the universe in which the film exists, I don’t actually appreciate filmmakers using that as an excuse for first person filmmaking, which I find to be amateurish and distracting… Even if that is supposed to be the objective.
The second great unlikable is post-Sixth Sense films by M. Night Shyamalan. I mean no disrespect to the director, but after the stunning debut of The Sixth Sense, I feel he has never again reached those heights, and whilst his films look beautiful and have competent acting throughout, the stories have never thrilled me, and let’s face it, the crux of making cinema is telling a story. If you don’t have a ‘good’ story to tell, you have nothing.
Somehow though, and I suspect pan-dimensional travel, these two much maligned ideals have come together in a film which I totally enjoyed. To be honest, I watched this expecting to be able to do a ‘I hate this film so much’ review, but can’t, as I loved the damned thing!!
The Visit tells the story of teenage amateur filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her younger brother, try-hard rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) who are visiting their grandparents, from the mother’s (Kathryn Hahn) side, for the first time. The reason the kids have never met their grandparents is her mother is estranged from them after having a serious argument over her boyfriend whom they disapproved of her marrying, and she has never spoken with them since.
The marriage didn’t last however, and after the two kids were born he left, so it wasn’t long before the children began enquiring about their grandparents. Mum agrees to let them go visit on their own, and so our intrepid youngsters decide to make a documentary about meeting their grandparents for the first time.
This is where out ‘first person’ styled filmmaking comes in as the entire story is done from the point of view of the two cameras the children are using to film their documentary about meeting their estranged grandparents.
So the kids arrive in the small town and finally get to meet their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) and all feel an immediate affinity for each other and the kids are informed of only one rule: bedtime is 9.30pm.
Over the course of the next few days, and through the production of their documentary, the kids find that maybe their grandparents aren’t quite the nice and normal old folk that they seem to be, and things steadily get stranger… Especially after 9.30pm…
Quite simply, this film is brilliant. Shyamalan has perfectly cast the movie with actors that you may recognise, but they certainly aren’t big name stars. DeJonge and Oxenbould play the kids with just the right amount of ‘kidness’ in their wide-eyed view of the world but still with that touch of maturity that teens have. Oxenbould’s attempts at rapping are as perfect as they are as embarrassing from a 13 years old claiming to want a future as a rapper.
The real highlight of the film is the performances of Nana and Pop Pop: at no time do you really know what’s going on with them, and the quirkiness of their nighttime shenanigans will freak you the HELL out, that’s for sure!
The story has an air of creepiness that pervades every element, which is extraordinarily clever as you really don’t know why, but again it comes from the fantastic performances by all involved. The grandparents AREN’T quite right… Or are they? Are the kids that are over analysing their behaviour, or is this just the way old people behave?
Unlike most Shyamalan’s films, the ending doesn’t come as a plot twist that will have you shocked, but instead is a natural progression of the story that makes perfect sense and doesn’t just seemingly come out of nowhere.
The device of the kids filming never becomes a distraction as there is always story being told, and the kids are engaging enough that you enjoy them on screen. Plus we all know know that hand held recording has come along way since the Blair Witch Project days!
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and really can’t recommend it highly enough… Even to those who have been bitten twice by ‘found footage’ and Shyamalan films.
Format: A perfect looking region B bluray with no flaws, this film runs for 94 minutes and is presented in1.85:1 with a DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack.
The Making of The Visit isn’t really a ‘making of’, but more a series of quotes from Shyamalan about why smaller movies are better, and how having a large budget corrupts filmmaking. It almost feels like he’s trying to convince us of why he has no A-Listers in the film, but I’m not sure why? Suffice it to say, none of the cast are interviewed and it’s really a vanity piece.
Deleted Scenes is a series of 10 short deleted scenes that wouldn’t have really added much to the film other than time, though a couple of them were a little creepy.
Alternate Ending is just that. It’s an interesting and heartfelt epilogue that may or may not have fitted the film; I can’t decide. It is a well acted piece though, and gives the underused Hahn an opportunity to really shine.
Becca’s Photos is a slideshow of picture the character has taken during her visit with her grandparents. I detest the waste of space on a moving image format of still images.
This bluray also comes with a digital ‘Ultraviolet’ download.
WISIA: I do like this movie but I am not sure if it has real repeat view value. Like of a lot these sorts of films though, upon a single rewatch, you do see some performance subtleties that mean something completely different after you have seen a film to the end.