M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is part horror and part psychopath. It’s a bizarre tale of teens Becca and Tyler who hop on a bus to meet their grandparents for the first time. After many years of estrangement, their mom decides it’s about time they connected with Pop Pop and Nana.
It doesn’t take the kids long to figure out their grandparents are missing a few nuts and bolts and that something is terribly worng (sic) at the old farm where their mom grew up. Worng is intentional. Everything is out of sorts.
And Becca — who is a budding filmmaker — is making a documentary about the visit, and the strange doings are documented. Brother Tyler gets caught up in movie madness, and with a second camera, contributes to her cause. At this point, a third component is added.
This criticism does not come easy. I loved Shyamalan’s early work. The Sixth Sense is legend, and his followup films Unbreakable and Signs — while not up to that quality — were pretty good. It’s been downhill from there. The Visit is his first visit to the big screen after his 2013 disastrous Will and Jaden Smith bomb After Earth and the awful The Last Airbender in 2010.
The newcomer kids, Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould, are pretty good, considering they’re shoved into roles so stereotypical that they are a horror of another kind. Totally wasted are Tony winning actress Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie, who play the grandparents.
Both — but especially Dunagan — are creepy and have a blast with parts that are also steeped in horror-movie stereotype.
Pet peeve. I hate movies done from a kid’s point of view that almost totally uses hand-held cameras. Shaky cameras, odd shots and self-absorbed kids mugging no-stop has been done to death. To give Shyamalan — who also writes — a bit of credit, he does stay true to the movie’s view. It’s all and always seen from the point of view of teenagers.
That is assuming one actually cares about that view.
One positive: Shyamalan gets to the point. A bit over 90-minutes, at least The Visit is a short one.
Want more? Catch Mr. Movie’s interview with Mark Duplass at www.tri-cityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, brief nudity, language. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.