The Visit

I was told I need to watch The Visit, for a few reasons! One, my wife likes a lot of the M. Night Shyamalan films and she needs me to tell her how it is. Good reason.

Two, I have only seen one MNS film in theaters, and that was the terrible After Earth. And come on, that doesn’t count. None of that was typical MNS. And finally, despite thinking otherwise, I have actually seen all of his films but two. I figured I was missing at least 6 or 7 by now, but somehow I have watched most of them. I kind of have to keep going at this point, no matter my preconceived notions.

As for biases, IMDB labels the film as a comedy horror. For some people who have found his recent movies to be laughably bad with terrible twists, this allows him to join in on the joke with him. If he makes things intentionally cheesy, it is a win win for him.

Kind of like how a visit with the grandparents is a win win. They get to feel loved, you get snacks.

Fifteen or so years ago, a woman left her parents house to be with an older man. They had a baby girl, then another kid. Then eventually the man left her to raise the two kids all alone. The whole time the woman would not go back to her parents for help, never communicating with them despite problems in her life.

But then they found her via the internet. They want to see their grand kids! She said no. Grand kids forced it and now Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are going by train to see them! While they are away, The Mom (Kathryn Hahn) is going on a cruise with her boyfriend to get some well deserved time off.

Becca is a smart girl, aspiring film maker, so she wants to make a documentary about her experiences. This will be used as a project to help her mom heal the past between them all and leave to a better life hopefully. Tyler is the younger brother and a rapper, who enjoys free styling about random topics for “the ladies.”

Anyways, when they get to the farm, where there is no real cell phone signal (of course), they find their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie, not Luke Youngblood) acting strangely. They were supposed to be a couple who offer counseling to sick people at the hospital that they volunteer at. But Pop Pop just seems to clean his guns and chop wood and stay alone. Nana bakes all the time and sometimes has a wild side.

Also there is the rule that they can’t leave their room after 9:30. That is when Nana starts acting even stranger and they wouldn’t want an accident to happen in the confusion. No, not at all.

At the same time, this oven is pretty nice and big and cozy.

Ed Oxenbould has already been in a lot of things in his very young career. In fact, he was Alexander in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. He was also the worst part of that movie. Technically, he was also the worst part of this movie, but in this case, his acting wasn’t bad. Just his actual character had some annoyances.

Shit, I am completely fine with basically everything he did in this movie, except for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rapping. He freestyles like, 3-4 times in the film and each one is cringeworthy and awkward. It doesn’t feel like it fits his charterer at all. I assume the actor could really do it and so they included it, but I just wanted it to end immediately each time it started.

The Visit is actually a decent comedy when it needs to be and scary at the other points. As we get closer to the end, the balances shift a bit more to the scary side with a bit of absurdity. Despite the shifts in tone, the movie handles it all really well. It never feels jarring to be a bit scared and then laughing a minute later. That being said, this is not going to be the movie for you if you want an extremely funny or scary movie, as both sides are lessened in order to make the narrative work.

I enjoyed Dejonge as the lead, main narrator and it was refreshing to see such a smart teenager in a horror film. It was also interesting to her talk about the documentary she is trying to make, allowing a strange level of meta awareness to the final product movie that ends up being The Village.

More importantly, Dunagan was fantastic. She played a great Nana, pulling off the crazy, confused, and happy extremes that the character went through. The weirdness of the film relies heavily on her character, and if she wasn’t a great actress, the film would have been complete shit.

That’s right. This film wasn’t complete shit. This was a good movie. A good, new, M. Night Shyamalan movie. That factoid is probably the biggest twist of all.

3 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

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