Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Visit

Movie Name: The Visit
Year of Release: 2015
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Patch Darragh
Genre: Suspense, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

Synopsis & Review:
Director M. Night Shyamalan returns after his reviled latest directorial efforts (specifically "The Last Airbender" and "After Earth", both of which were met with indifference and harsh reviews). "The Visit" follows the story of two siblings, Becca and Tyler, both of whom are sent to spend a week with their maternal grandparents, whom they've never met. There is some tension in the past between their grandparents and mother, and their mother seizes this opportunity for everyone to know each other, while simultaneously she goes on vacation with her new boyfriend. The kids entertain each other shooting a documentary of this familiar healing process, but start noticing the awkward, erratic and outright bizarre behavior from their grandparents. This starts to escalate progressively until they become fearful of their safety.
M. Night Shyamalan has built a name for himself as a director who likes to rethink the premises of the typical suspense film. He builds an intricate web of family relationships, upon which a dark menace is released (the alien invasion of "Signs" or the outsiders of "The Village" for instance), forcing the family nucleus to deal with that menage. "The Visit" is a smaller effort, both in terms of budget and scope, when compared with his earlier efforts, but again uses the dynamics of a family in danger to bring out situations of tension and fear. Unlike his other films though, there's never a definite investment in the characters we're following - both central narrators are kids who are suffering from their parental abandonment (their father left), while the menace comes from a situation that is quickly perceived. The film never probes deep into motivations and in the end feels contrived and devoid of real substance (or menace). Another wasted effort from a once inspired director.