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| 29 September 2015 | Reply

Directed by M Night Shyamalan
Starring Olivia DeJong, Ed Oxenbould, Kathryn Hahn, Peter McRobbie, Deanna Dunagan
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
7 /10

The Visit movie

That M Night Shyamalan has a unique creative genius has never been in question, but his scorecard has come to resemble a heart monitor printout, and in recent years his star has fallen so far that he has been refused final cut and had movies ripped from his hands after shooting. In an effort to counter that he self-produced The Visit in partnership with the BlumHouse studio, and with final approval back in his hands, this twist on the Little Red Riding Hood story works… mostly.

The Visit opens with Mum (Kathryn Hahn) info dumping to the camera: she left her parent’s house fifteen years ago with her teacher boyfriend, and she’s never spoken to them again. She had two kids with the teacher before he left a few years ago. Her parents want to get to know their grandkids, so invite them to visit for a week. She said no, but the kids insisted, so off they go.

At this point we also learn that fifteen-year-old Becca (Olivia DeJong) is a budding film maker and is filming a documentary around meeting her Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time. This sets us up for a lot of headache-inducing ‘found footage’ to come, but it’s a tool more reminiscent of BlumHouse’s previous works Paranormal Activity and Insidious.

So far, so fair – and when the kids get to Nana and Pop Pop’s remote snow-bound farm, all seems above board. Until the weirdness starts – and there is lots of it, as Nana and Pop Pop are played with disturbing menace by Dunagan and McRobbie.

As the end of their week together looms, the kids become more and more scared and desperate to get the hell outta Dodge, and the truth behind Nana and Pop Pop’s creepyness emerges in shocking style.

Shyamalan’s stock trope is to build suspense to breaking point before springing the surprise twist ending on his audience, and he does that well here – even though he keeps cutting it down with little comic turns, the suspense is set to eleven.

Apparently Shyamalan made three cuts of the film: one each straight horror and comedy, then settled on the one which was “somewhere in between”. He probably made the best choice as the levity makes the story more human, though inserting Tyler (Ed Oxenbould)’s cheesy and misogynistic rap song at the end to show the kids’ resilience as they bounce back from the horrific dramas which unfold at the farm, is a pointless and clumsy misstep.

Though far from perfect, The Visit is a solid return to form from Shyalaman, and judging by the proliferation of the media campaign for its release the studio has high hopes for its success.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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