Monday, 18 January 2016

'The Visit' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the film to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt please do not read further.

M. Night Shyamalan tries once again to produce an effective film, yet fails in what has become a repeated pattern.  Long gone are the days that Shyamalan meant quality, and unfortunately for him 'The Visit' just continues to point out that maybe he was a one trick pony with 'The Sixth Sense' and that maybe he's just not a very good filmmaker.

This time round Shyamalan turns his hand to the found footage genre to tell the story of a pair of teens who visit their estranged grandparents for the first time, only to discover everything is not as it would first appear.

The initial set-up, of two young teenagers out in the middle of nowhere with a pair of creepy old grandparents whose actions become progressively more and more disturbed might be a good one, but the tone never holds true, flicking between 'horror' and comedy too often to maintain one consistent feel, the 'twist' ending is so telegraphed that it might as well come on the cover, and the story never becomes anything more than just bland.

The choice for making the film a found footage film feels very bizarre, and kind of unnecessary.  The conceit that the daughter is trying to make her mother a documentary film about the visit to the grandparents in order for the mother to find some kind of closure for events that happened 19 years before is just silly.  There's no need for it.  The film could have been just a normal film, with the children still wanting to find out what happened between their family all those years before, without them making a documentary about it.

The film being found footage adds nothing to the story, or even to the tension, as the majority of the film doesn't have any tension or horror in it anyway, and instead feels like it has been shoehorned in simply so that the director can 'have a go' at that genre.  The film doesn't benefit from being found footage at all, if anything it suffers from it by limiting what story can be told.  Perhaps Shyamalan wanted to direct as little as possible and thought that only using one camera angle would make things easier for him.

The story itself is so dull and silly that it really struggled to hold my attention.  The nighttime antics of the 'spooky' grandparents were never scary enough to make it feel like a horror film, yet the film took itself too seriously for it to feel like it was planned as an intentional jab at found footage films.
The predictable Shyamalan 'twist' was made so obvious so early on that I predicted it to my partners a good half an hour before the film revealed the 'shocking' revelation.  Here is where the spoiler warning comes into play, so you've already been warned, the grandparents aren't the real grandparents.

This becomes super obvious throughout the film as no one else who knows the grandparents ever gets to see them on screen, them having mysteriously 'just gone out' whenever anyone comes over, along with the fact that grandma spills something on the kids laptop camera so that their mother can't see them, with no other part of the laptop suffering any ill effects.  It was becoming so obvious that these grandparents the children had never met before weren't who they were meant to be I was almost willing them to get killed off for their stupidity.

In actual fact these fake grandparents were escaped mental patients who broke out of the facility the real grandparents worked out, killed the real grandparents and pretended to be them in order to spend time with the grand kids because, well, just because.  Neither one of the fake grandparents had any real motivation to do anything they do other than 'because'.

When you consider that they were supposed to be mental patients you begin to question the whole film, how did they escape?  How did they find out where the grandparents lived?  Why was no one in the area looking for them?  Why did no one come by to check if the grandparents were okay when they suddenly stopped coming to work the same day the mental patients escaped?  Why did the fake grandparents remain relatively sane at the start of the film, but became obviously disturbed by the end, did they just think 'fuck it' and stop trying to act normal?

The whole film just feels lazy and built on a series of scenarios that just wouldn't happen.  I understand that you have to suspend your disbelief when going into a film, especially a horror, but this is just going to far.

Once again M. Night Shyamalan delivers not just a poor film, but a woefully bad one.  Another one to the ever increasing pile of bad films he's produced.  When will people stop giving him credit for 'Sixth Sense' and 'Unbreakable' and realise he isn't a good writer/director?


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