The Visit, 2015

Image used under the Fair Use Act: Courtesy Lighthouse Cinema
© Universal Pictures & Blumhouse Productions

Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?

Grandma (Deanna Dunagan)

This review may contain spoilers.

I absolutely loved the Crawlspace Chase that suddenly plummets into an anti-climax, like most of Shyamalan‘s films that descend into anti-climax, much to the frustration of the movie-goers, when they think (they should have learned by now) they’re approaching the high point, but then realize it’s really the low point or not at all a plot point or a plot advancement procedure.

Recently the director has taken plenty of slack for how he tells stories, what is the narrative built of, how will the man who once shook all of Hollywood and half of the world with a twist, which still echoes in the annals of the entertainment business, end this one or that one? That was the Sixth Sense, 1999, and he followed that about a year later by another shocker, Unbreakable, 2000, with Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, however, the twist could not match or even come close to what was shown in the Sixth Sense, where a boy sees dead people. The audiences and the critics and the keen viewers, in general, were expecting to be blown away but they had to settle for comic book geeks who took their hobby a tad bit too seriously; which was OK. Things had not become too flimsy for Shayamalan, who, keeping with the privileged tradition, cast Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix in his next film, Signs, 2004.
It was here, during a moment in the film where the director, in a cameo, warns the character of Gibson before taking off to an abandoned village. It was here that a radical change in direction was sensed, in the director’s tone, even then the audience kept expecting an outcome that he/she could never have thought of. Well, instead of all that, the keen viewers and the critics had to settle for getting wet, after they had put on their foil, tin hats. What happened after that is pure tragic and what some would call click-bait. He took a trip to a village populated with the Amish/puritanical people as settlers, once again with Hollywood heavies, William Hurt, Adrien Brody, and Joaquin Phoenix as cast members, the director traveled all the way to a forest, set an intense, mystifying tone and a condition that no one inside would leave, as plot fodder. However, The Village, 2004, even though with an upshot that infuriated (not just made upset but the audiences were fuming at the ears), as a result of the director’s over-confidence and trust in the Shayamalan narrative, where it is impossible to dislike, forget hate.

He couldn’t be more wrong. The Village turned out to be the beginning of an end (which thankfully does not look like one after Shayamalan’s Split and Glass), a film that people called a gross miscalculation of the way the filmgoers consume a film, a laughable premise with a thin veneer of a plot, which the sullen performances kept from being torn apart at the seams. The plot was dissected in the worst possible ways; with some critics going to the extent of saying the following:

(Shyamalan was continuing in a pattern of making) sealed-off movies that [fall] apart when exposed to outside logic.”

Michael Agger writing for the online magazine Slate

The film was also included by Roger Ebert, in his publication: Ebert’s “Most Hated” list. A list that comprises of films being rated measly from zero to 1.5 stars (out of 4). Even then, I remember somewhat ‘liking‘ what The Village had to show and tell. I was genuinely surprised by the tall wall and the urban twist of a highway patrol.
The man who once made the entire cinema exhale and suspire in unison had, it seemed, been consigned to Hollywood oblivion. After making the apocalyptic thriller, The Happening, 2008, it sure seemed that Shayamalan was never going to make another film, with critics calling it ‘incoherent‘ and and ‘unconvincing trifle’, and that the director had lost his touch, becoming ‘self-seriousness in favor of some horrific silliness‘. But here’s the thing; ten years later somehow the way the genre contrivance was perceived changed and Bird Box, 2018 (a mediocre at best film, with Sandra Bullock in top form) was generally praised by most.
The film has an ending that would make you go blind with a sense of miscue) was opened to mild to positive reviews and not a scathing word was uttered for the film, which looks as if it took the plot from The Happening, included a LEGO store, included Bullock at a time when she’s is sorta making a comeback, included positive feedback with words and statements such as ‘compelling’ and ‘high-concept idea’ being used to describe the film.

What happened here? Recycling of a plot from one of the more intelligent directors in the industry after ten years so no one would remember and also that when the Shayamalan film was released, there was already plenty of negative associations being made and Mark Wahlberg couldn’t change a thing. Plus, making a film for Netflix, which was once mainly a B-grade platform (to which, Shayamalan has been relegated) with the hopes that the millennial adults would react differently to the wind? Well, yes, that’s what happened. I’m only trying to say that the attention span is getting smaller and complains? Oh, those; those keep getting fatter by the hour.

Somewhere in the middle, after the Shyamalan dust had settled, The director made a film that scares. It bloody well tries to roast a full-grown teenager alive in an oven.

The Visit is hand-to-heart scary. I was shaking in my boots as Granny goes all Spiderman and keeps that ‘you have no clue and for that matter neither do I‘ expression on her face unless she is digging out a hidden camera from behind the ceramic owl and another shelf-sitter ornament. 

Goodness, Shyamalan may be the master of anti-climax but this one had me climaxing on the horror throughout, and then Shyamalan’s trademark twist hit me like a cricket ball, which was not as hard as I had imagined but that’s Shyamalan, you either hate him or love him, there is no other way.

The Visit is entertaining with some highly hammed up Hoe-Rap by a thirteen-year-old and lack of reactions from his sister. That’s alright, I’d be out of expressions too if I saw what Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) was up to in the barn shed. Plus I’d be hamming it too if Nana (a haunting delivery by Deanna Dunagan) sneered at me and invited me into the oven, like a boss witch.

I was scared, my spine cold and my heart racing with anticipation of the anti-climax, which would offer the much-needed break from the ninety-four minute run-time of the horror fest, of the strange ride, offering a satisfying blend of thrills and laughs. And thankfully, the movie community is starting to take Shayamalan seriously again: “(The Visit) signals a welcome return-to-form for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan“, says the site consensus at  Rotten Tomatoes. The film is simply marvelous in that one way that it reminds us that Shayamalan was such a master of his skill. He is really back in this one with fully & individually fleshed-out characters, rich with humanity and a clearly sketched out psychologies and a clear-cut narrative which knows what alleys to take and which ones to avoid; sparkling this way even though the film is very basic and has a fairy tale feel to it. It is stripped-down but with an important element of time-tested horror of classically-tinged tales of child peril. In any case, we still have people who haven’t forgotten nor have they forgiven, calling The Visit worse than The Lady in the Water (which I do not have the inspiration to watch), calling it an ‘endurance test‘, with the ill-judged shenanigans.    

It’s placed under the comedy-horror label for a reason. I was laughing at how much liberty had been taken to make sense of the WiFi among other major plot holes and also because I was laughing hard after each scare, maybe to shrug fucking Nana off my mind. This is a well-executed film with the jaded director returning to familiar territory.

The Visit is flawed but scary as hell. I’m guessing this is also getting a lot of hate and why not; this isn’t exactly “Oculus, 2013” but then Oculus did not have old people to scare the shit outta me. It is also being called the ‘most shocking‘ of Shyamalan’s films. Whatever happened in the last decade?
A whole lotta love, that’s what

I believe it had one senior citizen, Oculus, that is.
Sure, why not. 

But you get it, right?

I enjoyed The Visit a great deal and would highly recommend the film.

Daughter: “Mom, there’s something wrong with nana and papa.”
Mom: “They’re just old!”

Me: “And completely bat-shit or goat shit.”

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