The Visit (2015)

(On Cable TV, June 2016) It’s not a good sign when a movie loses all credibility in its first five minutes. In The Visit, we’re asked to believe that a mother would simply ship off her teenage kids to her long-estranged parents for a week, while she gallivants to a cruise holiday. Result: Disbelief snapped, never to return. After that, the annoying mockumentary gimmick seems inconsequential. The good news, I suppose, are that the film is a bit better than writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s last few atrocities—but not by much, and most of the “better” should be read as “doesn’t repeatedly try to alienate its audience”. There are still plenty of reasons to dislike the film: the tone is all over the place and not in a “here’s comic relief” kind of way. The various events that happen during the film are the kind of stuff that occurs in movies rather than any attempt at real-life, clashing with the hand-held aesthetics of the film. The Visit, perhaps worst of all, is dull stuff, built upon a weak foundation and never achieved in the way it is presented on-screen. If I dig a bit into the film, I can see how the on-screen aesthetics of amateur filmmakers are meant to act as Shyamalan’s commentary on filmmaking, but I just don’t have the patience for that: As far as I’m concerned, Shyamalan is still in the doghouse … and he can stay there for a while.

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