Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oh the Horror!: The Visit (2015)

To expand his ever growing body of knowledge, Barbecue17 enrolled in a film appreciation class at his local college. He is posting copies of his class assignments pass the knowledge on to you.

Movie Thoughts by Barbecue17
The movie I watched: 
The Visit
It was directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
It was released in: 2015

Please briefly summarize the plot:
Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are dedicated to creating a documentary of their first ever meeting with their grandparents. After a fight 15 years prior, the children's mother has never allowed her parents to be a part of their lives. While Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-pop (Peter McRobbie) initially seem like charming, ideal grandparents, as night falls their behavior changes. Pop-pop spends all day chopping wood, believes he's being followed, and locks away mysterious bags in a storage shed. Nana roams the house at night scratching at doors. Is this typical old-age behavior or is something more sinister at work?

How is this film culturally/ historically significant?:  
It's been a few years since M. Night Shyamalan has directed a horror/thriller, so this was definitely a return to the genre that made him famous. While it may not be a great film, The Visit is definitely much closer to his earlier hits like The Sixth Sense and Signs. It's also Shyamalan's first use of the found footage genre (as far as I'm aware) which was interesting to see.

What genre would you place this film in? 
Horror/ Creepy People/ Found Footage

How did this film make you feel:
Let me start by saying that I feel very, very conflicted by this film. On the positive side I really like the premise of the movie and I cannot deny that there are some very creepy, very unsettling images here. One element of great horror is taking something mundane or familiar and twisting it into something terrifying. Shyamalan absolutely does that here. On the negative side, I'm really not sure that utilizing the "found footage" technique was the right way to approach this film. While it does overcome them in the end, this film does fall prey to many of the weaknesses of the found footage technique, namely too many instances of the characters being silly for the camera and too many "staged" shots that work out just right. I would have loved to have seen this film use a traditional technique, interweaving small segments of the children's film into the narrative from time to time.

What were the most impactful moments of the film? Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie are both incredible as the grandparents. The way they manage to effortlessly float back and forth between being incredibly warm and lovable and being absolutely terrifying definitely deserves some recognition. The atmosphere is also very oppressive throughout. While the children aren't literally trapped, it still feels like they've been spirited away from the world they're accustomed to.

With what other movies would you compare this film?
 Since it uses the found footage for horror purposes, you'll definitely be thinking of films like Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, and Troll Hunter. I was also constantly reminded of Super 8 due to the plot involving the children as filmmakers. So far as Shyamalan films go, this one reminds me more of the Village, but without the disappointing ending.

What stands out about this film? Despite the weakness of the found footage technique here and the way the movie dwells on the children's odd, in your face behaviors, there are some truly terrifying moments scattered throughout. This movie will make you paranoid as you'll constantly be analyzing the film and everyone's behavior, looking for evidence in order to figure out what's happening. Any scenes at night, any scenes with the grandparents, and the climax are all worth your time. I won't say much more.  Well, I'll at least acknowledge that Ed Oxenbould's character replacing swear words with the names of female pop stars is pretty funny.

What message do you believe the filmmaker was trying to convey?
The main theme of the film seems to be forgiveness, as the children's mother has really never forgiven her parents and now the children are unable to forgive their father who has abandoned them. All of the resentment they've been harboring is definitely manifesting itself in their lives and affecting their health. There's also a strong message about the problems that can develop when we allow too much of a generation gap to occur between the young and the elderly. How many young people have little to no contact with their grandparents these days?

How would you rate this film?
 Good and a 1/2

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