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Movie Review: The Visit

Posted September 17th, 2015 at 8:14 AM by Nolafus
Updated September 17th, 2015 at 9:57 AM by Nolafus

M. Night Shyamalan brings us yet another horror flick, but this one is a little different.

I must admit, when I saw the trailer for this film I wasn't expecting much. Here comes yet another found footage horror film to throw into the pile, lost and forgotten with all of the other cheaply made films studios pump out for a quick buck. At least, that's what I thought until I did some more digging. M. Night Shyamalan actually made this movie with his own money. He had complete control over everything, which is a good thing since some studios require scenes and scenarios to be added, whether or not it fits the film. So now we have a movie where the director has put everything together himself, and basically made this movie not knowing if companies were going to pick it up to distribute it. That's a lot of faith to have in a movie, which means they had to give it their all.

The Visit, in case you haven't seen the trailer, is about a brother and sister who go spend a week at their grandparents' house. It's their first time visiting, as their mom doesn't exactly have a good relationship with them. Anyway, the grandparents start acting weird, and that's where the conflict starts.

M. Night Shyamalan has made some amazing movies, as well as a couple that will go down as some of the worst in history. The Visit is stuck somewhere in-between. But before I get to the bad, let's take a look at what the movie does well, because there are a few aspects that really shine.

First of all, since I'm always eager to talk about them, the characters are very good. They feel like real people, and although they are weird at times, it's those moments that make them genuine. We may not all be aspiring rappers like the little brother, but we all have our little quirks. It's through those quirks that the film builds its backbone off of. The sister is an aspiring film-maker, and has decided to document this trip. There are character interviews, scene shots, and the little brother making faces at the camera. In other words, it's through the characters that the movie tries to shine. And it does that well. The characters are funny too, and the performances given by the cast only strengthen this aspect. The performances were spot on, and I don't think there was a weak link. There are a few aspects to the characters the trailer doesn't give away, and I think I'll leave it like that. It was a nice surprise to see the inner conflict each person had, and it made the characters that much better.

Now one thing I was absolutely dreading about this film was the found footage aspect. It's an element that was original with movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, but now it's an overused gimmick so studios don't have to spend money on big cameras and lighting. Since M. Night Shyamalan was working with his own money, I can understand why he went this direction. I'm also pleased to tell you that it was done well. There's no music, no sound effects, nothing. All the sound is made by the characters and environment, so it really does feel like someone found this footage. Or, in this case, quickly edited it together for film making practice. So no rant about how disappointed I am about this will take place. Instead, I will say good job, and if a movie must be found footage, this is definitely the way to go.

However, not everything was so pleasant.

Ask my roommate what he thought of the movie, and he'd give you one word, boring. I'm afraid that I completely agree with that. Once the initial conflict is set up, there's hardly anything left to learn. The grandparents gradually get weirder, sure, but that's it. There's no new conflict, no new elements added, nothing to progress the film further except time itself. The introduction and conclusion of the film are very strong, but the middle drags on forever. I remember not being able to get sucked into the film at all, since the tension grew stale after the first thirty minutes. We get that the grandparents aren't normal, but what else? What else is there to the story? Unfortunately, there's nothing else there. The film relies on one sole conflict to carry the entire weight of the story, and it doesn't work. I checked my phone a couple times through the movie just to see if it was nearing its conclusion. The conflict is good, don't get me wrong, but the most satisfying element to the conclusion was the fact that the story was finally getting some energy into it. After an hour of seeing the same sort of elements, the story finally picked back up, but it wasn't enough to salvage the lackluster energy throughout the film.

I also found the actual horror part of this horror film underwhelming. This isn't a very scary film, and once again, I blame the story pacing. The beginning hits hard, since you're just getting a glimpse of what's going on, but then the same things happen again and again, and it gets old. You know this is going to happen, you know that's coming up, because it's the routine. Nothing new is added once the base is set, which only leaves for a few jump scares to bring the horror, and those don't count. A true horror relies on the tension and lack of information to carry the film through the middle part, biding its time until the finale comes. The tension is so drawn out, it turns stale. In fact, this film is pretty funny. Remember when I said the characters were funny? The little brother is what made this film watchable. Once the film dips into the middle part, the brother's antics and comments keep you entertained just enough to stay seated. When some of the best parts of a horror film is the comedy, you may be missing a thing or two.

M. Night Shyamalan is known for his twist endings. Unfortunately, I did see this one coming. Not to the extent where I knew everything that was going to be revealed, but it didn't come as that big of a shock. I'm not going to reveal it, as that would be a very mean thing to do, but see if you can guess it if you're watching this. Odds are, you'll be pretty close.

The characters are good, I'll even say great, but when they're paired with a story that adds absolutely no new information for an hour, there's nothing you can do. This movie does have some really good moments. It starts off strong with a satisfying conclusion, but the middle drags on forever and I was bored out of my mind. I wasn't expecting to like this movie, but the elements I was most concerned about turned out to be very good strengths. Unfortunately, the bad story pacing and lack of conflict really took the movie and plummeted it down.

Overall, I'd give this a 6/10.

The pros don't outweigh the cons, and even though this is far from being M. Night Shyamalan's worst movie, it's definitely not close to being his best.
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