• Review: The Visit (2015)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 6 11:36:56 2016
    THE VISIT (2015)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    **1/2 (out of ****)

    Grandparents are creepy--ask any kid. They smell funny, they move slowly,
    and in M. Night Shyamalan's latest film "The Visit," they might also harbor some deep dark secret, either squirreled away in their moldy, off-limits basement or holed up in the tool shed on the edge of their property.
    Deadly-annoying Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) get to spend a week with Nana and Pop Pop on their remote Pennsylvania farm and witness more than funny smells and slow movements; the oldies are played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie.
    Scorsese-wannabe Becca documents most of the sibs' sinister stay in a
    film she's making, so "The Visit" plays like a found-footage thriller with worried faces thrust into the lens at every opportunity. Tyler is a smart
    alec and "rapper"; consequently the lispy 14-year-old is not in the least
    bit endearing. The film provides some solid scares, mostly courtesy
    Dunagan, who acts genuinely strangely throughout, but her character is too often required to take a backseat to her precocious grandkids. More's the pity.
    Shyamalan could really use a hit. After scoring big with 1999's "The Sixth Sense," the second biggest box-office champ of that year behind one
    of those "Star Wars" prequel things, his critical reception charted a shockingly consistent downward trend--an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for
    "The Sixth Sense" (1999), 68% for "Unbreakable" (2000), 74% for "Signs"
    (2002), 43% for "The Village" (2004), 24% for "Lady in the Water" (2006),
    17% for "The Happening" (2007), 6% for "The Last Airbender" (2010). Nine
    years into the new millennium he had become a veritable pariah with a
    dwindling fanbase (for specifics, see Michael Bamberger's 2006 expose, "The
    Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a
    Fairy Tale").
    Personally I've never understood the hate. I was one of fifty-odd
    people who actually *liked* the fairy tale in question ("Lady in the
    Water"), and while "The Last Airbender" was bad, it wasn't *that* bad. I
    mean, it wasn't "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas" (0%) bad. 2010's "Devil" (52%) was a rare example of a Shyamalan film that polarized audiences. It offered an intriguing premise--five strangers trapped in an elevator slowly realize one of them is the title character--but didn't do a whole lot with
    it. "The Visit" might not be on a par with the director's most satisfying works, but it provides a huge sigh of relief to any remaining fans after
    his last film, 2013's Will Smith & Son vanity project, "After Earth"
    (11%). And at time of writing, "The Visit"'s "Tomatometer" speaks for
    itself: 63%. Maybe he's coming out of his long sophomore slump.

    David N. Butterworth

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