Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Are You Packed and Ready For "The Visit?"

Writer / Director M. Night Shyamalan gives longtime fans who gave up on him reason for celebration with "The Visit." His latest movie is a sort of modern day take on Hansel and Gretel, but with a somewhat predictable twist ending. The failed attempt at a surprise conclusion can be forgiven in a time where it's something we've grown accustomed to. This is particularly understandable when the man who brought us “The Sixth Sense” and “The Village” is attached to the project.

In "The Visit," Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) say goodbye to their mother as they board a train and head deep into Pennsylvania farm country to meet their maternal grandparents for the first time. Welcomed by Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), all seems well until the siblings start to notice increasingly strange behavior from the seemingly charming couple. Once the children discover a shocking secret, they begin to wonder if they'll ever make it home.

Besides Ana Gasteyer, the film's cast is made up of relative unknowns. The actors’ anonymity keeps you rooted in the story and not distracted through appearances by big name stars who would pull you out of the atmosphere and tale being told. The two who take on the roles of the grandparents are great in the parts and convincingly creepy and suspicious.

"The Visit" does a wonderful job of playing on the fears many of us have of the elderly and growing old. Those who work with and lobby for senior citizens will no doubt find the movie offensive and detrimental to their cause. Putting all that aside, there's a lot of disturbingly fun thrills and chills to experience here.

The movie is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language. The grandmother likes to roam around the house at night in her birthday suit. Intense scenes build up as we’ve come to expect from Shyamalan as well.

The DVD version of “The Visit” includes bonus content many will find interesting. They include a “Making of” featurette. Deleted scenes and an alternate ending are found, too. Becca’s Photos expand on the events which unfold in the movie.

M. Night is back in fine form. I never had a problem with any of his films except “The Last Airbender.” I had the "surprise" ending figured out about ten minutes in unfortunately. However, here's the perfect example of a movie whose execution outweighs its predictability. I wish it wasn't shot in a found footage style. It’s what we’ve all come to expect from a movie produced by Jason Blum, though. Shyamalan does make the most out of the shooting style and uses it to his advantage.

"The Visit" is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a digital download.

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