Writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable) and producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, The Purge and Insidious series) welcome you to Universal PicturesThe Visit. Shyamalan returns to his roots with the terrifying story of a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparentsremote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day. Shyamalan produces The Visit through his Blinding Edge Pictures, while Blum produces through his Blumhouse Productions alongside Marc Bienstock (Quarantine 2: Terminal). Steven Schneider (Insidious) and Ashwin Rajan (Devil) executive produce the thriller.
In the film THE VISIT, Loretta Jamison has recently reconnected with her parents after 15 years, following an event that tore them apart during her young adulthood. In an effort to mend things further, Loretta's kids Becca and Tyler decide to visit their grandparents, whom they have never meet, for one week. Along for the trip, Becca has brought along her video equipment, to document the entire experience, as she hopes to capture the many sights and sounds of her mother's childhood, interview the grandparents, and more. Things get off to a nice pace, as it would appear that "Nana" and "Pop Pop". are just your average, loving grand parents, however, as night falls on their first night there, Becca and Tyler are quick to notice that something is slightly off about their Grandparents. And it all starts with Nana wandering around, nude in the dark at night, displaying some rather bizarre behavior. Out of the 2 elders, Pop Pop appears to be the most sane, however, he too, begins to show signs of schizophrenia. As their visit continues, Becca and Tyler continue to document things via camera, and with each passing day, the Grandparents, whom they hadn't known prior, seem to become more and more off balance. When things reach a breaking point, the children fear for their lives. It is at that point, that they contact their mom, Loretta, who has taken a cruise with new boyfriend, Miguel. It is that point that there is a startling revelation, which reveals that when it comes to Nana and Pop Pop, all is not well, and is not at all what it seems.
First, i'd like to start off by saying that THE VISIT is one found footage/pseudo documentary film that I can get behind. Finally, after all of the duds and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT imitations that I have sat through over the years, THE VISIT comes along and is a film that isn't a complete waste of time. Although it's not really a found footage film, and more so, a fake documentary, as made by the film's character, "Becca". It does take on the first person point of view, look for the entire film. It is the type of film, that if you hate these types of films, will likely put you off initially. Personally, at first, to be honest, I didn't think that i'd be getting into this, as I simply have grown to pretty much hate films of the hand held variety. But as the film moved along, I was actually surprised at how much I really did get into the THE VISIT. Not only because the story remained somewhat interesting through out, but I think that it also had to do with the fact that here, many of the inherited camera flaws of many a found footage/pseudo documentary are kept at a minimum - most notably that damn shaky cam. In many films of the type, we of course get shaky cam, when a character, who's filming. is nervous and running, etc. Sometimes it can be can be very nauseating to try and keep up, and if you're like me, it takes your focus of of the film. While, yes, THE VISIT isn't void completely of this madness and does have some of this, many of the camera setups in the film are stationary, making for a more pleasing time. It is this clarity, that allows the characters to fully seep in, and it is this too, that makes for a far better story. It is a story that starts off fairly slow, only to pick up some steam as it moves along. THE VISIT is a film that definitely finishes a lot stronger than it was as it began. This is all due to a big reveal at the end, that essentially turns everything on its head so to speak. It's a conclusion that if you are able to pick up the signs, you might be able to crack, yet even still, it's fun to watch play out. Up until the big twist, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about THE VISIT, but as it was executed, it really sealed the deal. Although it is a film that still suffers from the many drawbacks of the pseudo documentary film type, THE VISIT is still pretty much enjoyable, because at its core, it still manages to deliver an effective, classic Horror tale.
The story is brought to life by a round to some pretty decent acting. The 2 actors portraying "Nana" and "Pop Pop", Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie, respectively, give us a pair of creepy performances as the strange Grandparents. Their performances give us enough for us to note that they are a bit "off", yet are careful enough not to reveal too much, too quickly. Boy, are they kooky. It's just their old age, right? Apparently not. As for the kids, Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould, portray brother and sister, "Becca" and "Tyler". Personality-wise, the 2 characters couldn't be any more different. Becca is a tech-savvy teen, with an interest in film making. And then Tyler is an 8 year old who raps - often rapping under the name "T Diamond Stylus". The Becca character is fun, and her interest makes a convenient avenue for the film's set up, in terms of everything being documented, as it is what "we" see. However, I must say that I hated the aspect of the Tyler character that made him a "rapper". It is just so stupid and clich But luckily, that aspect of the character doesn't become a main focus of the film. However, it does seem to be just an obnoxious element which was just thrown into the mix for the hell of it, as to make "Tyler" more "interesting". The 2 actors were given what they were given here, and i'd say they did a good job with everything overall. They're not too annoying, although "Tyler" does have his moments.
Overall, I have to admit to liking THE VISIT a lot more than I expected to. I mean, I wouldn't even begin to call myself a fan of Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan, in fact, I usually dread seeing his films, and that's the truth. He has a long line of dull and boring films in my opinion, with only one or two good films in his filmography. However, with that said, i'd venture to place THE VISIT alongside his "good" films. It isn't a perfect film as it still suffers from the inherited flaws of a film of this type(some long, drawn out scenes, the camera being present when it shouldn't be, useless character elements, etc.), but its overall outcome is both pleasing and fun. I enjoyed it for the most part
As for the technical specs of the film on disc, the digital transfer looks good in HD, and the sound itself is well balanced and clear. As for the special features, there's a making of, deleted scenes, an alternate ending as well a collection of "Becca's" photos.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said, going into this film, I expected to hate THE VISIT. I mean, whenever it was first released it was extremely over-hyped, I clearly thought it was just another "flavor of the month". But you know what? It's actually not that bad. Shyamalan actually did something right for a change. He made a "found footage" film that stopped the shaking cam, and erratic nature of the sub-genre, and just let its story take shape. The end result is the best film that he has made in a long while.
Special Features include :
- The Making of The Visit
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Ending
- Becca's Photos
This film is available on Video on Demand now, and will be released in a Blu-Ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack on January 5, 2016