Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cinema Freaks LIVE: The Visit (2015)

M. Night Shyamalan is something of a punchline now, and all of his movies have been reviled by everyone for years. He’s basically the equivalent of that guy in town no one likes and everyone has a story about him they laugh about over drinks - a clown not respected by anyone. It’s easy to get sucked into that, and rag on him - but he’s an easy target, so I don’t do it very much. However, The Visit is the worst shit I’ve ever seen from him. Tony and Michelle and I did a podcast about it. Check it out!

(Both the podcast and the review contain heavy SPOILERS, so if you actually want to see this for some reason, don't say we didn't warn you.)

This movie is an insane disaster, complete hot, wild garbage stinking up to the high heavens. It’s bad in every sense of the word. I could go on and on like this, but I don’t think it’s really a good form to do nothing but bitch about how bad it is with no actual criticism. Cough...yeah...I'd NEVER do that...

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould

Co-written with Michelle and Tony.

The problem is...I just don’t know where to start. Pretty much everything about this is either unpleasant, grating or poorly done. I mean, what was the plot behind this? Shyamalan got drunk off some fruity cocktail drinks and then said, "I have a new movie idea: old people are bad!" And then, for some inexplicable reason, a studio gave him money to make the movie.

To make matters worse, it's produced by the people who gave us Paranormal Activity, Sinister, The Purge, Ouija and more. Which is like two Japanese Kaiju monsters combining in a horrible lab accident and forming some sort of super monster to destroy Tokyo. M. Night Shyamalan teaming up with the people who gave us Ouija and the Insidious sequels - I think superhero movies typically feature less evil villain team-ups.

The premise is that these two kids are going to visit their grandmother and grandfather in a small town, who they’ve never met because their mother hasn’t spoken to them since she was 19 years old. Also, their father is out of the picture after a divorce. Hooray, dysfunctional families!

"Bye, kids! I'm glad you're leaving so I can get wasted and have tons of irresponsible sex!"

So, okay, not TOO bad so far. I mean, it is a story at least, even if it’s a flimsy one. Until we get to the fact that it’s a found footage movie, anyway. As I’ve said before, the genre can be done well. However, here it’s a couple of annoying white kids exchanging witty quips and blathering about how they think movies should be directed. I guess it’s kind of realistic, but both of them are so obnoxious to watch that I find it hard to be invested in at all.

Unless the movie wants you to be his ear, nose and throat doctor, this shot is pointless!

It's a shame because the young actors are pretty good and I hope they do more stuff as they get older, but here, they were victims of the Shyamalan Curse, which renders any actor awful.

There’s one scene where the girl is pointing the camera at a swing and saying they need to let it swing naturally. This is important because it shows that Shyamalan’s own directing skills are the same as that of a 15-year-old amateur.

Also, the little brother is constantly rapping, and it’s awful. I know he’s just a kid, and it’s mean to discourage kids from their hobbies and passions, but whoever made that rule up never heard this kid rap. I mean, holy fuck. What was the writing process like for that? I'm guessing Shyamalan decided that him walking into the middle of the scene himself and saying in a loud voice amplified above the rest of the movie, "I hate you, audience, and I want you to die," over and over, would have been a bit much. So the rapping was the next worst alternative.

The kids have a 9:30 bedtime, because after that specific time every night, the grandma gets naked, claws the walls with her fingernails and walks around with a knife. These obvious signs of mental illness probably would have been mentioned to the kids before they got there in real life, but it makes for good gross-out gimmicky shock scenes, so that's more important than storytelling!

How do they time it at exactly 9:30 anyway? What if grandma decided to strip down and grab her favorite kitchen knife at 9 p.m. when they’re down in the living room watching Nickelodeon? Weird.

There’s a part in the beginning where the brother’s phone doesn’t work, which I guess is the excuse for why the characters can never call the police. But we see that Skype works just fine, and they use the Internet later to look up stuff. Shyamalan could have easily just written out the part where the phone didn't work, but I think he was deliberately doing this just to piss everyone off. He had a plot that made sense, then he decided to make it confusing and bad for no reason, like he was protesting imaginary ghosts in his head who wanted to challenge his creative process. He is a special snowflake, after all, and the laws of reality don't apply to him.

More weird stuff starts happening, which they try to tell their mom, but she shrugs it off and says they’re old. Yeah! That’s it. They’re old. You’re the best mom ever. Old people are always stripping naked and carrying knives around! You kids have got to learn the hard and brutal facts of life sometime or other.

He could be suicidal and need real help, but nahhh, just senile!

There’s a bunch of filler scenes of them running around with the camera and filming shit, and it’s about as boring as it sounds. There’s no real development of the story. The camera stuff is so badly ingrained into the story, it’s practically a square peg into a round hole. I mean fuck. Most of the time it’s just the kids filming their grandparents making breakfast, or them driving. We don't get scenes of the two kids in the bathroom, but that's probably because Shyamalan's lawyers intervened before he could do that.

I don’t know if there’s even a point in saying so, but kids don’t use a camera like this. Nobody does, unless you’re directing a real, budgeted, scripted movie. No sentient human being does this. And it's also too clean looking for what's apparently just a reel of everything they filmed in the movie's world. Real life, there’d be way more errors, breaks in the video, et cetera. I just don't get what this was even supposed to be in the movie's universe - just a collection of footage from her camera, or a finished project? If it's the latter, hoo boy, I hope she's ready to submit it to Sundance! It'll be a gem.

But hey. Shyamalan knows it’s dumb. While they’re setting up a secret camera to spy on grandma and the sister wonders if it’s ethical to do that for a documentary, the little brother quips about how there’s no cinematic standards anymore. Which I think is obvious based on this movie.


There are multiple scenes of the grandparents telling insane stories about seeing ghosts and monsters in the lake. It goes nowhere every time, and while I don’t think the movie would’ve been better with some supernatural elements, it would have been better if our time wasn’t wasted listening to these asinine stories from a bunch of senile old people.

The twist at the end is that the two old people are NOT actually the real grandparents. After like, five fucking days, the mother finally notices that they’re staying with the wrong old fucks. The movie has shown them several times speaking with the mother via Skype, and somehow that was never noticed. The mother, by the way, has been at a beach resort having fun and partying all movie long, and she didn’t even bother to make sure her kids got to the right grandparents. Parenting: it’s easy so long as you have no brain! Are you even really divorced, or did you forget to tell him when you moved?

Oh, and I guess the two old people are escaped mental patients. Who, I guess, nobody noticed were missing from the asylum they were being held at! That's just great. Keep up the awesome security at that mental facility there, jackasses. After all, who cares if a couple of serial killers escape? Fuck it, not even worth sending out cops to look for 'em.

"But if someone's got some weed, we'll gladly arrest them!"

Also, due to convenient writing, the two old fucks were able to keep it together okay until they were found out to be impostors, at which point they went crazy and started acting like the murderous psychotics they are. Writing is easy when you don't want to try! Anyone can do it.


The climax involves a game of Yahtzee in which the grandma wolfs down a bunch of cookies and then screams right into the camera, crumbs dropping from her gaping maw of a mouth. Yahtzee issued a public apology saying they were sorry they ever invented the game after seeing this, and if they knew it would have been in this movie when they first made it, they would’ve aborted the game creation and set their building on fire.

Irreparably damaged now. Shame...

Then we get a bunch of scenes of shaky-cam fumbling in the dark as the kids discover the bodies of their real grandparents in the basement. Oh, and there’s a scene where the grandpa shoves a shit-stained diaper into the brother’s face. Thanks for that one, Shyamalan. I'm sorry I don't have a joke for that. I was...completely unprepared for movie scenes about diapers thrown in little kids' faces. Next movie I see it in, I promise I'll have something.

The fact that these fight scenes made it into the project is dizzyingly stupid, when you consider the fact that, in the movie’s universe, this whole thing was supposed to be edited together by the sister as a documentary project about her family. What made THAT worth putting in? What kind of documentary is this?

At the actual end, they get rescued and then the daughter and her mom have a heartwarming ending where we find out the BIG REASON she and the grandparents had a falling out years ago. It’s been hinted at all movie long and now we’re finally getting the answer. So. What is it? Take a seat here, this is going to be intense and I want to make sure you all can handle this huge revelation.

Are you ready? Okay: Apparently, when the mom was 19, she yelled at the grandparents and they pushed each other around a little. Wow. That’s why they never talked again? That’s why this whole mess happened? I'd say that's underwhelming, but that's like saying most school shooters just need to have a cookie and a beer and they'll be fine. It's not an accurate statement.

There’s also this really tacked-on moral about forgiveness and family and stuff. Really, was THAT what I was supposed to take from the shit-diaper-in-face scene, or all of the scenes of the grandparents telling conspiracy UFO ghost stories? Wow. That went totally over my head! Shyamalan is clearly much smarter than we thought. I guess this was a good movie after all.

The end credits are played over a scene of the brother rapping again. This time it’s full of product placements, because I guess Shyamalan needed to whore himself out to pay for this shit heap of a movie and also, for all the diapers he needed as props. I mean, there were a lot of those!

M. Night Shyamalan, now sponsored by adult diapers.

This is practically the dictionary definition of a bad movie, and I think Shyamalan did it on purpose. There's a nauseating level of self-aware 'bad on purpose' pandering about this. I think he made this just to fuck with Hollywood and the viewers/critics who hated his other movies, because the whole thing is pretty much the movie critics who hate him THOUGHT his other movies were. Hell, he's literally smearing shit in our faces. This movie is pretty much like a bratty child frustrated that no one gets his "brilliant" ideas, so he's passive-aggressively lashing out. My mother, upon seeing the trailer for this some months back, said it looked "exhausting" to watch, and frankly, that's the best summary I can think of.

This really is up there for worst movie of the decade. It's just so, so bad; everything about it is. Nothing makes sense. Fuck, I need to go lie down.

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