September 15, 2015

Movie Review: The Visit (2015)

The Visit has arrived in theaters and seeks to bring M. Night Shyamalan back to his roots. He is a writer director who began his career with an improves sick string of movies, most notably the Oscar nominated The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. His career started getting big and, in my opinion, the quality started to falter with movies that seemed to feature Shyamalan in an unchecked mode. His most recent films have been lackluster studio fare, like After Earth, that left me wanting more from him. I was wondering where the guy who made Unbreakable went. I think we found him.

I am not expecting anyone to agree with me, but I think he knocked it out of the park. I do not think it ranks with his best films, but it does make a run for it. It is really great to see as I really feel that Shyamalan is a really good director and his writing, when he is focused, is first rate. In recent years he has become something of a punchline in recent years, I am not sure this will change that, but it should. The Visit is a well executed thriller that holds its cards close and let's things play out unfettered by expectation, instead it builds with creepy curiosity.

The Visit tells a simple story that packs a punch. It is a movie that not only manages to give you the creeps, it will also make you laugh, and before it is all said and done, it will hit you in the heart as well. It is effective in a way I was not expecting. It is disarming, it is clever, and it feels natural, the latter is something I do not think I have been able to say of a found footage movie in some time. Did I not mention it is found footage? Well, it it.

The story tells of two kids, a teenage girl, Becca (Olivia DeJonge), and ten year old Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). They are being sent on a trip by their single mom (Kathryn Hahn) to meet their grandparents for the first time. The reason they have never met is their mom had a falling out when she was a teenager and left, never looking back. 16-years have passed and she thinks it maybe time for the kids to meet them. It will also give her a break, something the kids recognize.

Now, Becca is a budding filmmaker, a documentarian. She has taken it as her job to document the trip to make a film about it, find out what happened between them and her mom and see if she can orchestrate a reunion. It is actually pretty sweet. The thing of it is that the brother and sister tandem have no idea what they are getting themselves into. Why would they? There should be no reason to think anything untoward of their relatives. Still, they get there and they seem like sweet old people, but they do start exhibiting strange behavior.

Like the better Shyamalan films, it is better going in not knowing much more than what I have told you. There are things to discover, oddities to see, silly stuff, scary stuff, weird stuff, and then it hits you right in the heart. I sound like I am gushing a bit, and I don't mean to, but it is a movie that makes me like it more as I continue to think about it.

The Visit is kind of a dark fairy tale, it gives children a chance to show their mettle in the deface of some weirdness, and show some fairy tale like moments such as when grandma asks Becca to get in the oven in the trailer. It is a movie that does not overstay its welcome, has a nice pace, stays within itself, and just does what it needs to do. This is an easy one to recommend.

Highly Recommended.

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