Cinema-Maniac: The Visit (2015) Review

Pre-viewing discussion:

(interrupting a quiet day as a cashier)

Izanagi: “So will you see The Visit with me?”

Cesar: “Do Pigs sweat?”

Izanagi: “No”

Cesar: “There you go”

Izanagi: “You got to stop your bias thinking on M. Night Shyamalan”

Cesar: “Really? Okay, starting from 2002 all the way to 2010 M. Night Shyamalan was only ever attached to one good movie.”

Izanagi: “The Sixth Sense?”

Cesar gives Izanagi a grim look, and a head shake of disapproval.

Izanagi: “You didn’t even like The Sixth Sense!”

Cesar: “I did like Unbreakable, but that’s about it. In my book Shyamalan is a mystery. Kinda like Neill Blomkamp, minus starting off with a great movie, and then declining. Shyamalan was bad for me out of the gate.”

Izanagi: “Come on! See it with me!”

Cesar: “You have two things working against you. One I already mentioned, and to reiterate M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer. Second is the found footage format, and I’ll stand by my claim by saying 98% of found footage movies are garbage. Also, if it is like his other movies it’s going to have a plot twist.”

Izanagi: “Even if it does you won’t guess the twist.”

Cesar: “Give me the setup”

Izanagi: “It’s about two kids visiting their grandparents…”

Cesar interrupts Izanagi to say what he believes is the twist.

Izanagi: “If that’s so, only one way to find out.”

Cesar: “Fine, but if I win you buy me a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Izanagi: “Jigoku no!”

Cesar: “There you go I win.”

Izanagi: “Fine I agree, but if I win you have to…see Jack and Jill”

Cesar: “No way. I could barely tolerate one Adam Sandler. I don’t even want to picture two of him in one movie”

Izanagi: “Afraid now are we?”

Cesar: “Fine, but if anything happens to me….”

Izanagi: “Like the time Ooga Booga made your soul leave your body, or the time you had a bomb inserted in your balls, and timed to explode when you reviewed Diana. I’m sure you’ll survive this”

When I heard about “The Visit” I immediately lost interest even before knowing who was involved in it. The title alone kept me away, but when I discover the two other factors; M Night. Shyamalan, and the found footage format it was “No Zone” film for me. One thing I hate about the found footage format is that it’s the most insulting sub-genre in film. Allot of found footage movies claim they’re real which immediately discredits them. Not only that, but virtually everyone in a found footage movie has an HD camera to record whatever incident they are in. Cameras have gotten better from their conception, but I’m expected to believe every single person has an HD camera to record what they’re seeing. To further explain my distaste for found footage films are the force justification for a character to film everything they’re doing, and not let go of the camera. If some of these movies incorporated traditional scenes along with the “found footage” scenes I would believe what I’m seeing a lot easier. Except I’m not, and the first found footage film, Cannibal Holocaust, has hard to watch content (actual animals are killed on-screen) is still a high point in this sub-genre. Combine a movie with one of my most hated writer of all film, and my most hated sub-genre you have “The Visit”.

The Visit I will not provide a synopsis for. I want to reiterate this is an M. Night Shyamalan film so by nature if you know his writing any description of the premise can spoil the movie. Therefore, any review that has a synopsis for the “The Visit” fan or no fan of the director should consider them spoilers. Now, the first thing that raised a red flag about the poor writing skill of Shyamalan was a mistake in the first five minutes. We’re told the mother of the main characters was contacted by her parents through the internet, and the grandparents want to see their grand kids. So this would have not caused any suspicions if the mother did not established she had a rocky relationship with her parents, and has not seen them for 15 years in the first two minutes of the movie. First of all, by simply saying she got a phone call would have been believable, but nope the mother simply says the internet is how her parents found her. You know, that thing is basically a digital ocean of information. Two, the protagonist’s mother found out about her grandparents being counselor through the internet also.

(Cesar drinks an entire beer bottle.)

You gotta be kidding. I was hoping I would never have to say this because there is bad filmmakers, and then Jorge Ameer who is worse. M. Night Shyamalan writing has crossed over into Jorge Ameer territory. In 2013, Jorge Ameer wrote a movie called D’Agostino where the main character found an entire backstory for a pet human slave by simply typing his name, D’Agostino, on the internet. Shyamalan writing is similar to that of Jorge Ameer in this instance. Third, is the mother keeping tabs on her parents at all times? It would explain how she quickly  manage to found out about her parents started counseling. Four, the main character, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker whose filming the events for a documentary. One important thing about documentaries would be research. So how come Becca didn’t tell her mother to show her a picture of her grandparents? I found this suspicious which is extremely good for those like me who just love to prove the overly hated, overly criticized M. Night Shyamalan “talent” has been overlooked.

Izanagi: “Dude, get on with it!”

Cesar: “I would, but I still got to complain about the first five minutes.”

Izanagi: “Man you suck!”

Five, the protagonist’s mother went to her parents counseling website, and finds no picture of them? Now, because this is a Shyamalan film within the first two-minute I figured out the twist. At least in Signs (2002), the twist wasn’t easy to spot. Sure it turned to be plot breaking, and rendered the premise broken, but I wasn’t able to predict the twist. Here, everything that has been established in the first five minutes of the film, and the lack of logic in it only serves to giveaway the twist. Six, if Becca actually saw a picture of her grandparents the film itself wouldn’t exist. This leap of logic is needed in order for there to be a film. If there’s no sound foundation for the story to begins then it’ll serve hurt it more in the long run with more mistakes.

Seven, the mother despite telling her kids not to go still lets her kids go visit their grandparents. If this was written competently than the mother would accompany the kids instead of leaving them on their own despite what her kids wanted. You know, like a reasonably concerned parent. Shyamalan could have used the mother memory against her. A simple “It’s been so long. I don’t recognize you mom, and dad” would have been enough to buy into this setup. It’s established that the mother hasn’t see her grandparents in fifteen years, and some of these simple changes would have removed these plot holes. I was willing to look past this immediate failed setup by Shyamalan until, Tyler (one of our main characters) attempted to make Vanilla Ice rapping seem like Tupac Shakur in comparison with the following rap.

Tyler: “Girl. I’m chilling again. I feelin again. I am like Iron-Man and Batman. I’m a hero again. Ugh. You think I’m little, but last month I grew an inch, and a quarter again. You think you’re 2 good for me. But that’s really a joke, cause you c. That doesn’t bother me. Cause I’m not a sensitive blough. Ugh. Now in the end, you’ll be in my bed. We won’t be just friends. You’ll write inappropriate text, and hit send. We share a Starbucks frappuccino blend dog. And see this isn’t just philosophy. It’s based on science you see. My Mista Pediatrician disconfront for me. You tall skanks! I’m going through puberty. Hoe!”

Izanagi: “Oh, man. That was just painful.”

Cesar: “Pass me the mic.”

Izanagi: “Dude, just forget it please. That rap was awful. Let’s just move on.”

Cesar: “No, no. I need to illustrate how incompetent M. Night Shyamalan is at writing.”

Izanagi: “You eventually will with the rest of the review! It’s already bloated enough.”

(Cesar grabs a mic out of thin air, and begins rapping)

Cesar: “The same old boring day just keeps rewinding. Everybody’s fear just keeps on binding. Still they act tough, like they’re hot stuff, but it all doesn’t matter cause it’s all a big bluff. The same routine everyday is boring. Need to get outside and start exploring. Thoughts in my mind are overlapping. I’m running out of lines to keep on rapping. What did you think?”

Izanagi: “…That was good.”

(Cesar, drops the mic.)

Cesar: “M. Night got nothing on me. I wasn’t raised the streets foo!”

Izanagi: “Well, he was nominated once for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Sixth Sense”

Cesar: “Stanley Kubrick received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director for The Shining, and Brian De Palma received one for Scarface (1983). Awards, and nominations does not make talent factual.”

With the first five minutes of the film alone I already have enough material to post a satisfying review. Not only did I bring up issues with the premise itself that it never fixes, but also presented solutions to some of those problems that could have led to a better film. However, if I stopped at just the first five-minutes that would leave many to discredit my position on the film, even though I just proved, and provided reasons as to why the writing is broken.

The Visit is meant to be a comedy, and horror film preferring the former genre for its overall tone. However, Shyamalan does not know when to implement comedy. There’s a scene where Tyler goes into a tool shed of sorts that is setting up a horror scene. Tyler enters this dark shed, and says throughout the scene how much it smells. This destroys the atmosphere the scene was going for, and misleads the viewer into thinking they’re meant to be afraid of what’s in this shed. When the scene is solely comedy it doesn’t hit well. Besides timing, the cast is filled with only two major characters to follow, and aren’t written to balance the horror, and comedy of the movie. Becca is mostly serious in the film so she is not reliable for humor. She hardly breaks out of her serious mold, and when she does it simply to set up a horror scene with no payoff. Then there’s Tyler who has the role of being comedy relief. He has to rap terribly in the movie for comedy relief, and also be taken seriously. He’s a character whose poorly written because little about him is developed beyond the fact he wants to be a rapper. As for his backstory revolving around dealing with his father leaving from his life at a young age affects Becca more than it does Tyler. With Tyler constantly shown without concern for serious issues until the last act rolls in. Tyler is never an engaging character.

There’s a moment in the film when Tyler says, and I want to emphasize M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN WROTE THIS! Tyler says, “No one gives a crap about cinematic standard. It’s not the 1800s. Have you seen reality TV? Housekeepers of Houston has like a billion viewers!”.

Cesar cynically clapping.

Thank you M. Night Shyamalan for reaffirming your negative attributes from your ego, not listening to criticism, and sheer ignorance for proper filmmaking with this dialogue. You dare insult the audience telling them they don’t have cinematic standards? Not only that, but you’re only defense is reality TV is popular? Have you missed Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Oz, The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964), and other great series so you could cherry pick only reality television? M. Night, you just can’t assume you’re critical stance is correct with a narrowed mindset like yours. Maybe if you know, you were anything like Steven F$%@ing Spielberg you might be taken seriously with this claim. You do have Becca counterarguing Tyler claims, but the fact is M. Night Shyamalan is solely credited as the writer, and told everyone (including his fans, who might even hate reality TV) they do not care about cinematic standards. If professional film critics, and audiences didn’t have cinematic standards Shyamalan people would be eating up “The Last Airbender” just on name value alone.

There’s also the introduction of two characters in the movie that go absolutely nowhere. On this trip, what were the chances that Becca would filmed two completely random adults who used to be actors. One during the train ride in the beginning of the film, and another twenty minutes in when someone came up to check up on the grandparents. These two characters don’t do much from the single scene they are in besides being more evidence to assure viewers who made predictions on the twist. Another person is brought up in the film is a stranger who just appears in an empty neighborhood to just get beat up by the grandpa.

Why this stands out so much is before grandpa, and the our main kids characters arrive at the high school their grandparents met each other. We’re shown the drive to that destination, and there’s hardly any people walking on the streets. Sure it’s winter, but another trick to good horror movies is removing the suspicion of there being any scares in a scene which can’t be done when the one time we’re shown the outside of this house is an empty neighborhood. Becca encourages her grandpa, and brother to play a game where they make up a story for a person in a building. I spotted the house where M. Night Shyamalan good ideas never existed.

Another aspect about this scene that also gave away the twist was the grandpa feeling like he was being followed. Now, we’re told these old people are counselor so when the grandfather acts funny by believing someone is following him it doesn’t add up. I mean, it’s part of his job to talk to people so this scene was also reaffirming my prediction on the twist, as well as breaking what’s established. If the grandpa simply stated one of his patients has it out of him problem solved, and nothing seems out of character. Except grandpa, and grandma never talk about their jobs, nor mention the people they help in detail.

The last secondary character that is worth mentioning is a young woman who brings food to the house. Seeing the lack of attention for establishing any form of normality this character also goes nowhere. If the lack of secondary characters didn’t giveaway there’s something clearly wrong with the situation then the interaction will. Shyamalan problem was immediately making the grandparents awkward for the kids to talk too. He does not show a gradual change from a welcome home environment with the grandparents to unsettling visit. This decision cost Shyamalan to write himself into a corner. Without establishing a sense of normality, or a nice family moment viewers will expect something bad to happen at the end. Also, there’s not a single shot of Becca, Tyler, and the grandparents all together in the same frame. Hmm, nothing suspicion is there. You think Becca, an aspiring filmmaker would at least want one shot of the entire family together for documentary, except the thought never pops in her mind. Hm, completely makes sense to me. Unfortunately, something bad did end up happening in the last act.

Izanagi: “No! Why?!”

Cesar: “I was right! I told you M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer!”

Izanagi: “I don’t know who I hate more right now. You for acting obnoxious for being correct, or the fact M. Night is still writing twists into his movies!”

Now the twist wasn’t hard to see to coming. Before the twist is revealed there is not a single scene in the film with the entire cast all together. The two kids, are never shown sharing a scene with both grandparents together besides when they meet for the first time. They either hang out with the grandpa, or the grandma. On top of that, every scene where the kids interact with the grandparents is written awkwardly. One way to counteract this would have been writing a single scene of the entire family having fun together. Except that never happens. Something has to go aray whenever the kids are with their grandparents. Then there’s the plain problem that the kids are mostly together implying they hardly hang out with the grandparents. Also, let’s not forget the counseling job is mentioned once in the beginning, and is briefly brought up again in the middle of the film. So connecting the dots wasn’t a difficult task for me. It wasn’t being used in the film to drive the plot so I made a note of it. The broken premise, combine with awkward interaction between kids and grandparents, the lack of secondary characters written in the film, the lack of the grandparents talking about their jobs or seen doing it, no nights at the grandparents house without some odd occurrence, and that it is written by M. Night Shyamalan made me confidence about my prediction. Also, the fact I dread being correct goes to show I take no pleasure in being correct about a bad piece of writing, and the whole film in general.

There’s still other elements to write about though. Those the are the characters which don’t have depths to them. Becca is an aspiring filmmaker, but talks about film in a snobish way. There is no enthusiasm towards her approach in filming. There’s also a subplot brought out of nowhere of how she doesn’t like looking at herself, even though there was a moment fifteen minutes into the film of Becca looking into a mirror when talking to Tyler. This would be better foreshadow if she turned around in that scene, and talked to Tyler. Also, she’s an aspiring filmmaker, and does not like looking at herself? There’s also this plot point of the kids father leaving them at a young age which also get brought out of nowhere at times. This eventually connects with why Becca is filming the documentary…but it’s very silly. A simple phone call would fix everything if all the mother was looking for was forgiveness. Then the plot twist opens up more plot holes, and brings up the serious lack of police world in this small town.

Now, the acting is surprisingly good. The dialogue is written awkwardly, and the kids don’t talk like kids, but they are convincing in their roles. Olivia Dejonge who plays Becca deliver convincingly her role of a troubled young teen. She sounds like she has built up resentment, sounds like she’s into filmmaking, and shows uncertainty on to how to feel in situations. Dejonge does not come across wooden in her performance. Dejonge comes across convincingly as her character. Ed Oxenbould best trait was his chemistry with Olivia Dejonge. I believed him, and Olivia Dejonge were siblings. Their chemistry felt natural in every sense of the word. However, Ed Oxenbould was the most annoying out of the cast. I blame Shyamalan for giving him his awful rapping scenes, but Oxenbould takes the blame for confusing shouting for comedy. Ed Oxenbould does not have the acting chops to sell good jokes because he has no charisma behind his setup, and punchline, let alone selling a film filled entirely of bad jokes. Making matter worse is he ends the film with another one of his terrible rapping scenes.

Deanna Dunagan plays the grandmother in the film. Aesthetically she fits the role by simply having to look old, but her appearances is her greatest attribute in this film. Managing to come across as some nice old lady, and flipping the switch into insane crazy old woman. She shows fear whenever she does anything odd which adds to the character uneasiness towards the kids. Dunagan comes across convincingly as a senile person. Lastly, Peter Mcrobbie gets a less showing performance compare to his co-star Dunagan. Mcrobbie comes as sincere in portrayal which is to his credit. He’s makes a character that little to explore, and acts naturally in it. There ain’t much to his performance besides being the more normal acting grandparent. The supporting don’t have screen time to make an impression making most of their inclusion in the film mostly pointless in one scene.

Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is just plain bad. It’s not a good movie by Shyamalan’s standards, nor ties for the worst films he’s made in his careers. By found footage standard, the acting is better than the genre generally provides, but the writing matches those of the worst in the genre. Then finally, the same mistakes 98% of found footage movies do The Visit also falls victim from audio being able to be heard despite long distances, the characters filming everything, and acting against reason. For instance, there’s a scene where the grandmother picks up a camera, and film herself attempting to enter her grandkids room with a knife with the intention to kill them. So despite losing her marbles this old woman has the sense to pick up a camera, but not destroy the footage? Shyamalan is not successful enough in creating a fictional illusion barely comprehending makes work of fiction engaging. Whatever made him think he could sell something else as reality to viewers is about as nonsensical as his writing.

2/10

Izanagi insisted I include this epilogue.

After-viewing discussion:

Izanagi (furiously looking at Cesar): “You’re such a buzz kill!”

Cesar: “I told you so Izanagi. This is M. Night Shyamalan we’re talking about.”

Izanagi: “You’re so obtuse on the guy! Other people enjoy his works. If you don’t, then don’t be a dick about it! There is no one out there who shares your same viewpoints on movies”

Cesar: “Fair point, but think about this. From my perspective, the hack that is M. Night Shyamalan gets more attention, articles, and discussions for his films over talented filmmakers like Charles Burnett who made a great biopic called Selma, Lord, Selma in 1998 for Walt Disney Pictures.”

Izanagi: “There is no way Disney made a film on Dr. King. I mean, hello. They’re Disney!”

(Izanagi takes out his phone to check if it’s true. Much to his dislike CM is correct.)

Izanagi looks at a smiling CM: “I hate you so much.”

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