Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Visit (2015)

24 Oct

the-visit-03

By Tanner Smith

“The Visit” was a moderate success, but for M. Night Shyamalan, “moderate” was MUCH better than what he faced with his few previous movies. (Then, over a year later, he would release an even more impressive achievement with “Split”–better than moderate.)

And it was even enough to grant him a nod for the Razzie Redeemer Award, after being nominated for (and winning) a few Razzies for said-few previous movies. (Not that the Razzies are to be taken seriously, anyway.)

I remember, it used to be fun to make fun of Shyamalan. But I never lost faith in him. I mean, this is the same guy who made three of my personal-favorite movies (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” and “Signs”)–I never even lost faith in him when he made one of my LEAST favorite movies (“The Last Airbender”). Even lesser films like “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” and “The Happening” still showed many signs of a director who kept trying different, inventive things, despite what people were thinking of him. But by the time “After Earth” came around, marketing execs were so nervous about the general public’s opinion of Shyamalan that they didn’t include his name in the trailers.

Thank God it was only a rough patch. Shyamalan wanted to go back to his roots, the times of making his first films (“Praying With Anger” and “Wide Awake”) with so little money and so much faith before he got his big chance with “The Sixth Sense” and even bigger chances since then. So, he came up with a small budget and made a horror film for Blumhouse. That became “The Visit,” and thankfully, it paid off and made everyone interested in Shyamalan again.

I really like “The Visit.” It’s a fun, entertaining horror film that blends terror and comedy really well, probably better than most horror-comedies. I mean, in most horror-comedies, the laughs are there but the scares aren’t very effective–“The Visit” had a great, unique balance. But here, especially in the final act, I’m laughing loudly at what’s going on and yet at the same time I’m genuinely concerned for these two poor kids who just wanted a pleasant visit with their distant grandparents!

I know with these long movie ramblings of Looking Back at 2010s Films, I’ve been giving away endings and analyzing them…I won’t do it here. I didn’t see the twist coming, and nearly everyone in the theater with me upon first viewing didn’t either–I remember hearing everyone gasp loudly, one woman exclaim “Oh no…”, and as for me, when the twist came about, I suddenly felt the world expand around me as everyone was coming together. But even if you DO know the twist, it’s still an entertaining thrill ride–“The Visit” is yet another one of those movies you have to see more than once, which you know I love.

The faux-documentary approach (yes, faux-documentary–NOT found-footage, as everyone labeled it) works…for the most part. It seems like a documentary a young, aspiring filmmaker would make. But the problems with it are that it doesn’t always FEEL like one. The most important reason for that: the video & audio are WAY too good for what these kids supposedly have to film everything. So while I think it would be more effective if it was more realistic in that sense, I still admire the overall spirit of it.

“The Visit” wasn’t a huge success, but it was just what Shyamalan needed at that point in his career. Audiences dug it and critics liked it (well, for the most part–sheesh, Richard Roeper, calm down with the one-star review, will ya!?). And then after “The Visit,” Shyamalan made “Split,” also for Blumhouse, which was so good it certified his status as a filmmaker worth following again.

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