The Visit (2015 American film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||Paul Cantelon|
|Edited by||Luke Franco Ciarrocchi|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$98.5 million|
The Visit is a 2015 American found footage horror film written, produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film stars Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn. The film was released in North America on September 11, 2015 by Universal Pictures.
The film received positive reviews, with praise towards the performance from the child actors, script and atmosphere, while others had mixed reaction with the inconsistent tone, finding conflict between horror and comedy. Despite that, the movie was a box-office success and is seen as a possible comeback for Shyamalan.
Philadelphian teens, 15-year-old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her 13-year-old brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), prepare for a five-day visit with their maternal grandparents while their divorced mother, Loretta Jamison (Kathryn Hahn), goes on a cruise with her new boyfriend. The two kids, who have never met their grandparents, intend to film a documentary about their visit. Loretta reveals that she has not spoken to her parents in fifteen years after having married her high-school teacher Corin, of whom her parents disapproved. The father of Becca and Tyler, Corin, left Loretta after ten years for another woman. Loretta tells Becca little about the disagreement she had with her parents that led to their estrangement, suggesting that Becca ask them for the details instead.
Becca and Tyler meet their grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie), who Becca refers to as "Nana" and "Pop Pop". At the isolated farmhouse, Becca and Tyler are instructed to never go into the basement because it contains toxic mold, and that bedtime is 9:30 p.m. An hour past curfew, Becca ventures downstairs for something to eat and sees Nana projectile vomiting, frightening her. She tells Pop Pop, who dismisses it as Nana having the stomach flu. He reminds her not to leave the room after 9:30.
Over the next few days, Becca and Tyler notice their grandparents exhibiting more strange, sometimes frightening behavior. When Becca asks Nana about what happened the day Loretta left home, Nana begins shaking and screaming. Pop Pop and Nana are later confronted by a woman who was helped by them in counseling; she goes into the backyard with them but is never seen leaving. Tyler, concerned about the occurrences, decides to secretly film what happens downstairs at night. Nana discovers the hidden camera, retrieves a large knife, and unsuccessfully tries to break into the children's locked bedroom.
When Becca and Tyler view the camera footage of Nana with the knife, they contact their mother via Skype, begging her to come get them. When shown images of Pop Pop and Nana, Loretta panics and reveals that they are not her parents. Becca and Tyler attempt to leave the house, but the impostors trap them and force them to play Yahtzee. Becca sneaks to the basement, where she finds the corpses of the real Pop Pop and Nana, along with uniforms from the mental hospital they worked at, indicating the impostors are escaped patients. Pop Pop grabs Becca and imprisons her in his bedroom with Nana, who tries to eat her. Becca fatally stabs Nana with a glass shard from a broken mirror, then tries to save Tyler. Tyler tackles Pop Pop to the floor and repeatedly slams the refrigerator door on his head, killing him. The two escape outside where they are met by their mother and police officers.
In the aftermath, Becca asks Loretta about what happened the day she left home. Loretta states that she had a fight with her parents, in which she hit her mother. After that, she left home and ignored their attempts to contact her. Loretta concludes that reconciliation was always possible had she wanted it. She tells Becca not to hold on to anger over her father's abandonment.
The film ends as Tyler, to his sister's dismay, performs a freestyle rap recounting the events of their visit.
- Olivia DeJonge as Becca
- Ed Oxenbould as Tyler
- Kathryn Hahn as Loretta Jamison, Becca and Tyler's mother
- Deanna Dunagan as Maria Bella Jamison, also known as "Nana"
- Peter McRobbie as Frederick Spencer Jamison, also known as "Pop Pop"
- Benjamin Kanes as Corin, Becca and Tyler's father
- Celia Keenan-Bolger as Stacey
- Jon Douglas Rainey, Brian Gildea, Shawn Gonzalez, and Richard Barlow as police officers
- Erica Lynne Marszalek and Shawn Gonzalez as passengers on a train
- Michael Mariano as a hairy-chested contestant
- Peter Sterner as the 9-1-1 dispatcher
Filming began on February 19, 2014, under the preliminary title Sundowning. Sundowning is the increased restlessness and confusion of some dementia patients during the afternoon and evening. M. Night Shyamalan's Blinding Edge Pictures was the production company, with Shyamalan and Marc Bienstock producing. Steven Schneider and Ashwin Rajan both acted as executive producers. Later on, producer Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse Productions were included in the credits. Although thousands of American children were auditioned for the film's two lead roles of Becca and Tyler, in what Shyamalan later characterized as a "total fluke", he eventually selected a pair of relatively unknown Australian juvenile actors, Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould, to portray the film's dual Philadelphia-native teenage protagonists.
Shyamalan admitted that he had trouble keeping the tone for the film consistent during the editing phase, telling Bloody Disgusting that the first cut of the film resembled an art house film more than a horror film. A second cut went in the opposite direction and the film became a comedy. He eventually struck a middle balance and cut the film as a thriller, which, according to him, helped tie the different elements together as they "could stay in service of the movie".
Universal began The Visit's theatrical wide release in the United States on September 11, 2015. On April 17, 2015, the first official trailer was released to theaters, attached to the film Unfriended, and it was released online later that week. The film premiered in the Republic of Ireland on August 30, 2015, in a special screening that was attended by Shyamalan.
The Visit received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds an approval rating of 64%, based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Visit provides horror fans with a satisfying blend of thrills and laughs – and also signals a welcome return to form for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan." On Metacritic the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes called Shyamalan's film a "deliciously creepy and funny little triumph". He also wrote, "The Visit is the one we've been waiting for, folks. It's good. Oh my word, is it good. But more importantly, it is excellent in that specific way that reminds us why M. Night Shyamalan was once such a marvel. It is richly humanistic, filled with individually sketched characters that often sparkle with wit and surprising decency." In The New York Times, Manohla Dargis described the film as "an amusingly grim fairy tale". Shyamalan has gone back to basics, "with a stripped-down story and scale, a largely unknown (excellent) cast and one of those classically tinged tales of child peril that have reliably spooked audiences for generations".
In his column for The Observer, Mark Kermode panned the film, saying it may be worse than Lady in the Water. He wrote, "Is it meant to be a horror film? Or a comedy? The publicity calls it 'an original thriller' but it is neither of those things. Only 'endurance test' adequately describes the ill-judged shenanigans that ensue." Mike McCahill gave the film one star (out of five) in his review for The Guardian, and said it was "[d]ull, derivative and flatly unscary."
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- The Visit at the Internet Movie Database
- The Visit at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Visit at Box Office Mojo
- Access Hollywood: M. Night Shyamalan and Jason Blum on The Visit: balancing comedy and horror (video).