Wicked Wednesday: The Visit (2015)

My poor, suffering husband. With my impending five-week trip to America, I’m running out of spare time. So he accepted to watch this week’s film with me. Because he was so generous, I let him choose what to watch.

He doesn’t really like horror movies. At this point, he’ll tolerate gialli and like things that are tinged with sci-fi. Things like Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatcher (both versions, but mostly 1978’s), and The Fly. And randomly, It Follows. Basically, nothing that is indulgently gory or directed by Eli Roth.

As always, it took forever to pick something. We’re much better at talking about what we want to watch thank actually watching anything. For about four days, we planned to watch Ringu. But we changed our minds last minute and randomly selected The Visit. It was, after all, the film that saw M. Night Shyamalan’s return to form.

We, like a couple of idiots, both admitted over the opening scenes that we didn’t care for Shyamalan’s other work. That’s not to say that he’s a bad director, but he clearly wasn’t to either of our tastes.

Yes, this was all very silly.

The Visit is one of those weird found footage movies that didn’t need to be found footage. The reasoning as to why we have cameras is pretty weak. Two children, one an aspiring filmmaker, are going to visit their grandparents they never met. To commemorate the week together, they decide to document everything. How these young children got such nice cameras is beyond me. But they have them, and they’re also pretty good at getting nice angles.

When brother and sister Tyler and Becca arrive at their grandparents’ farm, things are seemingly off to a great start. Though it isn’t long before everything gets odd. Their Nana and Pop Pop insist that the children stay in their bedroom after 9:30. On the children’s first night at the farm, Becca breaks the curfew to get a snack and spies Nana projectile vomiting everywhere.

And things get increasingly bizarre from there. Things are clearly not alright with Nana and Pop Pop. The children become more and more unsettled, but they blow it off as eccentricities of the elderly. Their mother, who is away on a cruise, seems to agree and is generally unsuspicious.

But when the children’s laptop camera is ruined by Nana’s stove cleaner, their mother can no longer see them.

Becca becomes bolder as the week goes along. She begins to investigate why her mother left home years earlier and never returned home. Each time she interviews Nana about the incident, the old woman becomes dramatically upset and refuses to talk about it.

As the final day with the grandparents draw nears, the children must face the reality of what is going on head-on.

The final twist can be guessed from a mile away, but it is still fun to watch nevertheless.

Unfortunately, and this is a twist you will see coming, neither my husband nor I liked this movie. At all. It felt very long and at times, very unpleasant to watch. There are some excellent moments in this, though. The actors who played Nana and Pop Pop are excellent. They’re genuinely creepy.

But I think this movie fell victim to a number of things. The build-up and creep factor were constantly interrupted with “character building”. Only, I didn’t really like either of the children so I didn’t really care about their internal monologues. There was also a lot of blank space that could have been filled with something (thinking Paranormal Activity-style).

As stated earlier, this didn’t need to be a found footage movie. The interviews broke up the suspense too much. And the reasoning for having the cameras was so weak it became distracting. Unless every child now knows how to work a camera and create excellent cinematography. I do have a lot of faith in this younger generation, but boy, who know they were so talented?

Host taught us this earlier in the year: if your feature film in under 90 minutes, it can still be a feature film. The Visit did not need to be as long as it was. There wasn’t enough happening to fill that time, making the movie feel very long and slow. Good found footage movies rely very heavily on the building of suspense. Unfortunately, this movie became a series of weird incidents with very little plot. If the children could have investigated the mysterious happenings in a different local, I think it would have been more satisfying.

We have only ourselves to blame. When you pick out a movie by a director that you don’t usually care for, chances are you aren’t going to like this movie either, idiot. So this is definitely a case of it’s us, not Shyamalan.

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