If there is something we need to do these days, is to strengthen our family bonds, and with “The Visit” , M Night Shyamalan does his best effort to bring this matter to the big screen. Please don’t let the name dissuade you from reading, I assure you it will be worth your time.
In Shyamalan’s new film, “The Visit” we met Rebeca and Tyler, a couple of young brothers that take a trip by themselves to meet for the first time their maternal grandparents, who had not been on speaking terms with the kid’s mothers since she eloped with her lover (and later husband) many years ago. Since Rebeca wants to be a filmmaker and wants to preserve this reunion in “Documentary” style, she tries to record on video everything she can, with the help of her younger aspiring Rapper brother, Tyler (Keep reading, things get better, I promise)
From the start, “Nana” and “Pop pop” receive the kids with open arms and with a cheery attitude, which make the kids wonder what could have cause such a big fall out with their mother, but very soon, the kids star to notice that Nana behaves very strange, specially at night, to which Pop Pop claims is due a mental condition that is triggered by sundown, being that the real motive why they had told them to not go out from their room after 9:30 PM (The “We are old people” explanation given early didn’t stick, you might guessed). The real troubles begin when the siblings notice also an increasingly bizarre behavior on their grandfather, but happening during the day, and this makes the kids to start to wonder if they will even make it alive to the end of the week.
The film was classified on some reviews as “Comedy-horror”, something I did not know before watching the movie, now I can say is pretty much spot-on, although I think is more like a comedy with some drama that transitions into a very tense horror tone at the end, and NO, that is not a spoiler, is more like a heads-up so you can enjoy the film more: Going to the screening expecting something scary from the beginning might make you grow impatient since the film starts with too many funny moments (Going early with the twists, Mr Shyamalan?) but trust me, go with the flow and you will be rewarded at the end. Now, without going into spoiler territory, let’s see the good points on the film, which by the way, I’m happy to say they are many…
The acting was very good, specially by Ed Oxenbould, who is cast as Tyler, hands down I would say he steals the show, his chemistry with Olivia DeJonge (Rebeca) was flawless and although one might argue that this siblings get along a little too well, the script justifies that with no problems (Their father abandoned them when they were very young, and besides I for one am tired of seeing siblings fighting for nothing all the time in films, so this was nice change) the role of the grandparents and their gradual descent to madness was very well executed by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie
The whole “ I’m filming everything, because…. Whatevs” angle was very well handled, contrary to thousands of films going for the “Hand Held” or “Found Footage” style (or like I call it, “Drunken Camera factor”), it makes a lot of sense, even when we see transitions between takes that could make us go “Hold on, Who is doing fades on this found footage?” there a reason for that… Well done Shyamalan, well done.
But let’s talk about what I’m sure you are expecting from a film by M. Night Shyamalan… “The Twist” something we might call his “calling card” (Never saw “After Earth” or “Avatar” so I apologize if there is no twist on those)
This time around, the twist is a very good one, is not far-fetched nor “off the wall” there are clues thru the film, and although I called it before the AWESOME third act, it wasn’t as obvious as the one in “The Village” (I guessed it 15 minutes in the movie…. 15 minutes) The best part? It was not revealed to us with Flashbacks nor with a cameo from the director spelling everything out. Once again, well done, Shaymalan, well done.
The best part of the film, yet? The trailer did not spoil the best scenes, nor the ending…
I got to give a special mention to the third act, the resolution was logical, and it made sense with all we have learned from the main characters, just pay attention to some dialogue, because some hints are very subtle and they might go unnoticed, hence it might seem to some viewers a little bit illogical why they react the way they do in the end.
Now, why not giving a perfect score to the film? I’ll get into that, bear in mind that this is only my personal opinion (Like all the text previously written, if you are still reading), therefore take it with a grain of salt.
I found the pace very uneven, but mostly, the tone, the film starts too comical, partly due Tyler’s joking, which was good and all, but we were supposed to be watching a horror film, and we had to wait too long for something scary to happen. Even when I liked the siblings and their antics, there was a point when the film seems to get stuck and I even checked my watch because the grandparents plot also seemed to be not going anywhere, which made me fear we would fall into the problem that happens to most of the films done in this “Found Footage” style: The plot gets stuck and we see nothing happening until the last 10 minutes or so of the movie… Fortunately this is not the case, and on the other hand, I wonder if had Shyamalan decided to go for the suspense route from the start, would the film manage to not feel tired too soon, sadly, here I don’t have a good answer.
Another problem I had, is that the film goes for the jump-scares several times, a couple of them are very predictable, but I have to confess that there was one that got me. Normally I would knock some points off from the film when they abuse this element, but since there are really not that many and people on the theater DID jump and screamed, I’ll let it slide.
In Conclusion; “The Visit” is a very good film, highly recommended, it deserves to be seen on the big screen and it is already on my “Buy List” when it hits the Br/dvd release. I don’t dare to say this is M Night Shyamalan “Big Return” or that “He’s Back” but I liked both his script and direction, therefore I do think the man deserves another chance, and I’ll gladly see his next film.
Well done, Shyamalan, Well Done.