Friday, 2 October 2015

Film Review: "The Visit" (2015).

The tagline of the film may read "No one loves you like your grandparents". But things may not be what they seem with The Visit. This found footage horror comedy film written, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and co-produced by Jason Blum. Two children are sent to their grandparents house to spend a week with their grandparents while their single mom goes on a relaxing vacation with her boyfriend. One of the kids, Becca, decides to film a documentary about her grandparents in order to help her mom reconnect with her parents and also find out some things about her parents as well. While filming the documentary, however, Becca and her little brother, Tyler, discover a dark secret about their grandparents.

The return of M Night Shyamalan began on February 24, 2014, filming started, under the preliminary title Sundowning, at different locations in Pennsylvania, including Royersford, Chester Springs and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. This was the the director's lowest budget studio feature film. Shyamalan used his fee from After Earth (2013) to self-produce the film in question. In his own words, this was "an attempt to regain artistic control" after his recent movies had been denied final cut, and were even taken away from him in post-production. Shyamalan's Blinding Edge Pictures produced the film, with Shyamalan and Marc Bienstock credited as producers. Later, producer Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse Productions were included in the credits. Shyamalan admitted that he had trouble keeping the tone for the film consistent during the editing phase, telling Bloody Disgusting that the first cut of the film resembled an art house film more so than a horror film. A second cut of the film went in the opposite direction and the film became a comedy. Shyamalan eventually struck a middle balance and cut the film as a thriller, which, according to him, helped tie the different elements together as they "could stay in service of the movie".

The film stars Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie and Kathryn Hahn. The cast gave excellent performances and they all elevated the film in terms of its goal to make you laugh and make you jump in your theatre seats. One of the best performances came from DeJonge, who was cast after Shyamalan watched her audition tape. Apparently, Shyamalan was so besotted with DeJonge after her first audition he said he'd found his star. He did the second audition just to see what she could do with a particular scene.

The Visit proves that Shyamalan's directing talents have not disappeared in vain with this unique found-footage horror film, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing his trademark terrifying imagery to the screen. Shyamalan reemerges triumphant in this disturbing chiller. The film might not be one of Shymalan's best films, due to the film's unbearable 'shaky-cam' cinematography and bizarre premise, but it's definitely his best film in years. However I do have to ask the very important question: What took you so long, Mr. Shyamalan? In the end, it is a twisted, morally ambiguous and terrifying thriller.

Simon says The Visit receives:

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