Dave’s 3-Word Review:
M. Night’s Roots.
It seems these days that you need to understand M. Night Shyamalan to actually respect him anymore. Like those who are fans had to have signed some sort of fanclub contract that contractually obligates them to watch all of his movies and give them all thumbs up while the rest of the world randomly hates him. I am an outspoken fan of M. Night. There are those that need some help here and there, and it was clear that even he felt obligated to make another movie to please his fans every other year…and every time…the affect they had got lower and lower. He lost his way, but you could always sense his spirit in every one of his films…with the exception of The Last Airbender. You always knew it was his work, which is something you can’t take away from him. The Visit is M. Night’s trial run to return to his roots. Using his own money and a small budget with very little advertisement, he tried to do something we’ve missed for a while. Did it work?
The Visit is ultimately about a couple kids that decided to visit their grandparents whom the’ve never actually met. Years ago, their mother left home forever and never looked back. So the kids decide to meet their grandparents and create a documentary to document everything, since the daughter is a film enthusiast. When they get there, they find out the grandparents act a little (or a lot) strange at night, and the things they do just keep getting creepier as the days go on. Is it oncoming dementia due to old age, or is it something more sinister?
I first heard about this thing last year with a random report about M. Night keeping his next film under wraps, but wanting to go back to his roots. That’s it, that’s all I read, and it’s all I needed to know. That was exciting and fresh news. Did it satisfy? Yes and no, but for the most part, I thought it was well done and well balanced. It’s not really award winning or in the same realm as his first winning trio of films – but it IS in the same realm as The Village – which is saying something at least in comparison to some of his latest works. I’ll tell you it’s weakest link – the fact that it’s found footage/mockumentary style…but I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t complain about that either.
It is found footage, but you shouldn’t focus too strongly on that. First of all, you need to remember that M. Night himself was a childhood film enthusiast – just like the kids in this movie. Kids love video cameras in general and like to play around with them – which these kids did – and you can tell that collectively speaking, the girl and boy were somehow a shoutout to M. Night’s own childhood. His best films were movies that played tribute to his inspirations and dedication to art as a kid – and The Visit did the same thing – in general. So it sort of plays out like a regular found footage movie and sort of doesn’t. At the end of the day – you do feel that M. Night spirit that you secretly love.
Next, you should know that horror and suspense are not the only things introduced in this film, because comedy was also there. It was a very realistic sense of humor that was put there on purpose – to make the audience laugh. You may or may not think it was trying to be serious, but the innocence of the kids creates a light prespective in contrast to the dark and creepy tones – evening out the balance of the movie. Whether you think it needed that balance or not, I think it fits pretty well.
The Visit really does bring M. Night back to his roots, and I’m truly glad that I saw it. It had a lot of great creepy and suspenseful moments that rose to the occasion, escalating throughout the film.
Not everyone knows M. Night’s background, so they might see found footage and bat their eyes – ready to give it a bad review off the start. Secondly, I believe the film took a while to get into it – maybe taking that story and character development a tad too far. I think we needed something to ultimately happen sooner. Finally, the little boy in the movie was supposed to be annoying…and I think he may have been too good of an actor in that regard. Take that as you will