The Visit (2015)
We had fourteen hours of torrential rain here yesterday. It was relentless, and came with a cold wind too. After trudging around in it for just short of two hours with Ollie, I was ready to get home, get dry, and settle down in the warm, in front of the TV.
Other than the film ‘The Sixth Sense’, I haven’t enjoyed many of the films of M. Night Shyamalan. They are usually damp squibs; promising much, delivering little. But I had recorded this one off the TV film channel, for a time when I had nothing else to do, so went with it.
Though not a ‘found-footage’ film, it is potentially equally annoying in that the two main characters are filming themselves throughout, and this is mostly how we see the action unfold. The back story is laid out rapidly, so we are soon up to speed. A single mother, left caring for two teenage children after her husband ran off with another woman. The kids are still having problems dealing with their dad’s departure, even though they were very young when he left. They have never met their maternal grandparents, as mum ran away from home at the age of nineteen, and hasn’t spoken to them since.
However, they have been in touch, and invited the kids to visit, as they want to make contact with the grandchildren they have never seen. Mum is packing them off to Pennsylvania by train, for a five-night stay in her childhood home. Meanwhile, she will be off on a cruise ship, with a new boyfriend. The daughter, Becca, decides to make the trip into a documentary and shoots everything on a video camera. She also takes along an SLR, so her younger brother Tyler can film her filming everything. They get the train to a remote station, where they are met by the kindly elderly couple, who welcome them with open arms.
Cue granny cooking lots of delicious food, grandpa being kind, and lots of walking in snow, and playing around the house. But of course, not all is as it seems, and the youngsters soon discover some strange behaviour going on with their grandparents, especially after dark. And as this is a ‘modern’ film, there is a lot of use of Skype, laptops, and hand-held camera shots. After half of the film had played, I was on the verge of stopping it, to be honest. The supposed ‘scares’ were very much a ‘So what?’, or ‘Nothing new’, and I was weary of the two young actors, who I found impossible to like. The older girl is pretentious, and her younger brother just plain annoying. She talks about cinema techniques constantly, and he likes to try to make up Rap songs. I was not only wondering if they were going to meet a gruesome fate, but hoping they would. Maybe they were supposed to be irritating, but I suspect not.
I decided to stick with it a little longer, wondering if I would ever bother with another film from this overrated director, and then something happened.
There was a GREAT TWIST! I say ‘great twist’, because I didn’t see it coming. And the ‘reveal’ moment was very well done indeed. But if you think you might see the twist arriving, or someone has already spoiled it for you, then don’t bother to watch the film. The twist is the only good thing about it.