I hated it. I hated everything about it. And let me preface this with a reminder. If I don’t like movies, I usually don’t write about them. But I hated this movie so much, I feel like the world needs to know.
I can’t stand horror. Well, JJ, why did you go see a horror movie if you don’t like the horror genre? I’ll tell you why. First of all, I work in a movie theater, so I knew the general layout of the movie. I saw Kathryn Hahn (who is good in everything I’ve seen her in), and I also saw that the entire movie was a girl recording for a documentary about the trip to her grandparents’. Sort of like the way “Project Almanac” (2015) was filmed, except it looked 10 times better (cause “Project Almanac” was pretty sad). Lastly, I knew the general story: Kids go and visit their grandparents, whom they’ve never met, and stay for a week. They don’t know anything except a mysterious feud between their grandparents and their mom. Which turns out to be terribly disappointing. But pray, read on for the spoilers.
“The Visit” was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed “The Village” (2004), Unbreakable (2000), and “The Sixth Sense” (1999). So this guy had some pretty impressive credibility. And with the way it was filmed (a girl getting footage for her documentary), I can say I was genuinely interested.
Now for your spoilers.
Let’s start with WHO SENDS THEIR PRECIOUS CHILDREN TO YOUR PARENTS’ HOUSE WHEN YOU HAVEN’T TALKED TO THEM IN 15 YEARS. Who gets messaged by their long-forgotten parents about wanting to meet their grandkids, and then consequently sends them off BY THEMSELVES just because the kids said they want to go. I was wanting a realistic mother. But I promise–that’s not my main issue.
The movie progresses as the grandparents are standoffish and mysterious. Both Nan-Nan and Pop-Pop have some mental disorders, memory loss, etc…I mean they’re old; you’d expect that. Don’t go out of your room after 9:30pm, since Nan-Nan turns into a wild animal (literally). Don’t go into the shed, because Pop-pop hides all his bloody diapers there. And DON’T go into the basement, since there are two dead bodies.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I think the main problem with the movie is this: The whole time, we are anxiously waiting for the story of why Mom hasn’t talked to her parents in 15 years. We desperately want the story, since she tells us in the beginning “It ended very badly.” So as we watch the grandparents interact with Becca and Tyler, we’re listening for clues in dialogue. Becca, (the one filming for the documentary), sits down and interviews both of them. And both of them go pretty insane when she mentions her Mom. Subsequently, you would think that’s another foreshadowing to the tragic story, right? Wrong.
In the end, these people aren’t even their grandparents. The real grandparents are dead in the basement, and these people are actually just creepy, suicidal, mentally insane child abductors. Becca should have realized that the first time Nan-Nan pushed her into the oven. But, oh, kids these days.
So all of these connections we’ve made with the grandparents–the satisfaction of piecing this mysterious story together–doesn’t mean anything at the very end. They’re frauds. Pop-Pop forgetting Mom’s name wasn’t a sign of age, it was a sign that oh maybe he’s not the real grandpa. I felt quite gypped, needless to say. Disappointed. I worked the entire movie to try and figure this story out along with Becca and Tyler and it all went to waste. And all of the little things the grandparents said and did that made sense, didn’t make sense anymore since they aren’t the real grandparents. You following me?
What’s even worse is the end, once the police come and the kids get rescued, etc, etc. The mom (Kathryn Hahn) finally tells Becca in an interview what happened when she left home and why she didn’t talk to her parents for 15 years. It ends with Mom hugging Becca, crying, and saying how much she loves her. That scene meant absolutely nothing to me. Mom comes out with the story we all wanted to hear, but its completely irrelevant now since the grandparents turned out to be sick fakes. I walked out feeling empty, let down, and also very skittish (Since I had just watched a grandma attack a girl like a wild animal, a grandpa almost rape a 13 year old boy, and a random woman hanging herself in the front yard. The art of horror filmmaking).
One more let-down for me, (at least the last one I shall bore you with): the comic relief in this movie came from 13-year-old Tyler’s talent in freestyle rap. Cute, and not bad. Also, Becca has a self-esteem issue in the movie and “doesn’t brush her hair facing the mirror”. I guess it was supposed to bring out sympathy for the poor, pretty documentary maker. The credit scene at the end has Becca brushing her hair facing the mirror, and Tyler rapping about going to his grandparents’ house. These kids just went through a tramatic, dangerous experience. They were screaming and they were scared. Their lives were threatened out in the middle of nowhere and for the last 3 days they were uncomfortable and terrified. And Shyamalan ends the movie with that??????
Story-wise I guess it was good. The concept and story of long-lost, mysterious but dangerous, grandparents keeping their grandkids. That’s intriguing, I suppose. And the horror aspect was spot on–I fell asleep with the lamp on that night. But the way this story was implemented…Shyamalan, you disappoint me, sir. Make me a sequel to “The Village” please.