Saturday, September 12, 2015
The Visit 
CNS/USCCB (J.D. McCarthy) review
ChicagoTribune (C. Darling) review
RogerEbert.com (S. O'Malley) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review
The Visit  (written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan) feels honestly like a modern Grimm Fairy Tale [wikip] (Little Red Riding Hood [wikip] and Hansel and Gretel [wikip] definitely come to mind) with all its original creepiness that subsequent storytellers, including Disney, et al often sanitized.
As such, while there are DEFINITELY aspects of this film that I don't like -- I think it goes out of its way to present "old people" as "scary people" / "people to avoid" (hence flies in the face of everything I've tried to do in this blog (promote understanding between people rather than provide (often cheap) excuses for people to fear / hate each other) -- if one is honest, the Grimm Fairy Tales [wikip] often portrayed "grown-ups" and "recluses" as dangerous / murderous wierdos. So ... I have to grudgingly admit that this film captured quite well the feel of some of the creepier Grimm Tales [wikip] while putting the story in a contemporary setting:
So ... as is the case in many of the Grimm Fairy Tales [wikip], 15 year old Becca (played by Olivia DeJonge) and her 13 year old brother Tyler (played by Ed Oxenbould) find themselves growing-up in a very dysfunctional situation.
Their mother (played by Kathryn Hahn) had left home at 19, having fallen in love with one of her former high school teachers, never talking to her parents again. Initially, mom had been angry at her parents for opposing her involvement with her former high school teacher (They warned her that a guy like him was not going to stick around). Later she was embarrassed because they proved to be right (the guy abandoned her and Becca / Tyler some years afterward when "someone 'better' / 'hotter' came along").
The result was that Becca and Tyler were growing-up without a father, and without ever knowing their grandparents (and presumably any of their other relatives).
At some point, Becca's / Tyler's grandparents made contact with them (finding their grandchildren on the internet) and Becca convinces her mother, who by then had a new boyfriend to go spend quality time with him (on a cruise) and allow her and her brother to visit the grandparents that they never knew for a week in the meantime.
With all the optimism of a 15-year old coming from a dysfunctional family full of secrets, Becca's convinced that she can "figure out what was wrong" and and "make things right" between her mother and her grandparents. And to do so she, a budding (15 year old) "film maker," was going to "document" everything that happened on her / Tyler's trip to their grandparents.
Sigh ... when Becca / Tyler meet their grandparents who they initially wish to call endearingly Nana (played by Deanna Dunigan) and Pop Pop (played by Peter McRobbie), they turn out to be decidedly strange. Initially, they believe that they seem that way simply because they are "old" and hence at least at some level "ill." However, as the week progresses, Nana and Pop Pop seem to get stranger and stranger, and more and more dangerous. What's going on?
It all becomes a pretty creepy story. I think it does play on people's fears of "old people" ... but it does follow quite remarkably well the story arc of an old time Grimm Fairy Tales [wikip]. Hence, while I _don't_ necessarily like the story, I have to accept that it's pretty clever at what it attempts to do. So grudgingly ... good job. ;-)
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