“The Visit” is a simple story. It’s the kind of movie that used to populate drive-ins, video stores or fledgling cable networks for decades. Now, the abundance of media and experience has made this kind of story new again. Everyone wants major scares, but they demand realism to a fault. So, what do you do? If you’re Blumhouse, you push a failing director into working outside of his wheelhouse.
I hate found footage, but I trust in Blumhouse. Blumhouse’s aesthetic forced Shyamalan to work within financial constraints again and the result was amazing. After all this was a guy who made his name getting a small boy to see dead people. Why couldn’t he make you believe in two kids being placed in harm’s way? Hell, their naivete helps to sell the experience and how this story could move along so far.
Elderly people make for amazing cinematic monsters. There’s something about subverting frailty and comfort that creates for moments that feel like betrayals of trust. When the two kid stars realize that something is wrong, they don’t want to trust their instincts as the older villains make them feel bad. They buy that Pop Pop stores old adult diapers in the shed or Granny is a sundowner. But, they record footage at night and they realize that someone is waiting to shove them into an oven.
The plot point needed to make the film was contrived, but it doesn’t matter. The two kids are obsessed with making a documentary and filming everything. But, their main point of connecting to the outside world has been muddied by their Grandmother. The kids still use this Laptop to Skype with their mother, but they wait a few days to clean up the camera. Why? Well, because if their mother could see what’s going on, she could help. That would kill the story fast.
If there was one thing that hurt the film for me, it was the douchebag wannabe rapper younger brother. I just finished watching Paper Planes with the same kid and I’m not impressed with his abilities. The cutesy swearing, the wannabe rapping and the annoying dependence on memories of Dad wore thin. Olivia DeJonge does amazing work in the lead, but she could’ve done so much better without being saddled with an unnecessary sidekick. Such is the trouble with movies like this. You don’t want to overpower youth, but instead you create hindrances that wouldn’t naturally happen.
I think it’s too early to call this Shyamalan turning a corner. The twist reliance is still there and this is a movie that he could’ve done at any point in his career. It’s just that we’re getting it at a time when he needs to do something to impress. I’m glad that we have directors that get that urgency. In regards to Blumhouse, you guys have had a hell of a summer. Go for the fences with “The Green Inferno”.
Release Date: 9/11/15