Yesterday was a very sad day for me at the movies. I was going to see the Iron Giant special release and went to the Draper theater instead of The District and by the time I noticed it I was too late to make the film. 🙁
I had my popcorn and icee in tow and not wanting to just leave I decided to go see The Visit. My brother really liked it as well as some friends and I have been trying to expand my movie comfort zone a little bit with a few more scary movies. So I guess take this review with a grain of salt because it after all wasn’t Iron Giant…wa, wa, wa.
So what did I think of The Visit?
Well, I thought it was a thoroughly generic predictable horror movie. I am not the most versed in the genre but I could predict everything that was going to happen. And of course because it is M Night Shyamalan we get a big twisteroo that was so obvious even for him. So no I wasn’t really a fan.
There are some good things about it. First, the performances are all fine. Most of Shyamalan’s movies have fine performances. The two kids are particularly good with Olivia DeJonge as Rebecca and Ed Oxenbound (from Alexander Terrible Day).
The Visit is also much tighter than the typical Shyamalan film. There are no speeches and philosophizing and thank goodness he doesn’t cast himself in the movie (I’m talking to you Lady in the Water). This may be Shyamalan’s tightest film with really no dead time where the story isn’t moving along.
But just because something is better than garbage doesn’t mean it is good. I’d rather watch the transformers movies than watch most of Shyamalan’s films and that’s saying something. I’d sit through Nut Job, Legends of Oz and Hero of Color City before watching The Last Airbender or After Earth again (those were the 3 worst animated films of 2014).
I feel like a lot of people are giving The Visit a pass because it isn’t as bad as The Village or The Happening. I’d agree with them but if it was Johnny Movie Man making the film I think 90% of critics would be giving it a lower score as a generic predictable horror film. I mean is it really as good as The Conjuring or something like that?
I don’t want to give any spoilers away but basically the film is about 2 kids that go for a visit to see their grandparents. Their mother is estranged from them but they want to see the grandkids. She sends them off without showing them a picture. Don’t you think a mother who is estranged from her parents would want to show the kids a picture of the parents? Especially if they are getting on a train and having to meet strangers? I found that highly improbable. And if things were so bad between mother and parents with no pictures or physical contact wouldn’t she have them watched out for by a friend of hers from high school or something like that? It all seemed hard to believe.
But fine accept that the Grandparents seem lovable at first but then weird stuff starts happening and at first they discount it as old people stuff, but it keeps building to a point where they really should be asking more questions and seeking help. We also find out where the Grandparents volunteer each week, which I won’t give away because it gives away a lot.
The thing with most horror movies is that characters get signs to leave or get out of the house and then they make the wrong decision every time. This movie is no different. The ending is tense but the kids had so many opportunities to leave and they keep going back for another interview or another discussion that it defies credulity even for children.
The other bone I have to pick with this film is it is shot in found footage style which is annoying but also makes no sense to the story. There is no way the Grandparent characters would allow the filming to take place or participate in it. It doesn’t make sense with their characters or personality traits in every other way in the film. The found footage also causes a lot of telling rather than showing and it just makes the whole movie seem so unbelievable. I understand they shoot films this way because it is cheap but it comes off looking just that and again it doesn’t work with the characters and story we are being told. It would have been so much better if it had been shot like a regular film. I haven’t been a fan of Shyamalan’s films but he usually shoots them adequately.
So that’s why in the end the movie felt really stupid to me. The characters behaved in nonsensical or stupid ways and the story didn’t really make sense or was completely obvious so not very scary (and I get scared pretty easily).
Like I said, I really feel like people are giving this a pass because it isn’t as bad as Shyamalan’s other films but is it really good? I guess if you like generic predictable horror movies than this is for you. As for me I thought it was lame but then again I was expecting to see Iron Giant so take it for what it’s worth. Sigh…
If you want to be scared I think The Gift is much better. It is still creeping me out when I think about it. It’s way more realistic, surprising and scary with really good performances.
Overall Grade- C- for the good performances and tightness of story.