Wow! The Visit, M. Night Shayamalan’s decently reviewed newest movie, is a total piece of shit. It’s a fucking garbage fire of a movie. I won’t be surprised to learn they screen it on the hour every hour at Gitmo to “entertain” the inmates. Those poor ISIS bastards! Actually, fuck those guys. Those fucksticks are the ONLY ones that deserve to have this movie inflicted on them. Right now there are two movies screening in Hell: The Visit and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And Star Wars is always sold out.
Inexplicably filmed in found-footage format – how has this technique not died off yet? – The Visit tells an incredibly stupid, contrived, and tasteless story, and tells it very poorly. The only saving grace of the movie is the cast and that is only because they don’t obviously flub lines or miss their marks. So kudos to you!
Also, the marvelous Kathryn Hahn (Parks & Rec, Step Brothers, Happyish) is compelling and makes the most out of the one note they give her. I like her a lot and have always found her performances to be nuanced and compelling. The fact that she is so stilted here is testament to M Night’s influence, I refuse to blame Hahn for that. There is no way her first takes are what was used here. “Flatter. Less emotion. Let’s try it again, this time pretend you just woke up and don’t know where you are.”, I imagine was the direction given her. Also, fun fact: Kathryn is 3 whole days older than me. So if I ever have the opportunity to meet her I have my opener. It’s gold, Jerry!
I’m going to spoil the shit out of the movie because there is no way to explain why I hated it so much without doing so. So if you care to see this movie – and I was one of you once, foolishly buying in to the bullshit the reviewers were shoveling – please get out now.
Gone? Ok. Let’s get to shredding.
Kathryn Hahn (we’ll call her Mom, because that’s literally her fucking name in the script), sends her 2 teenage children, Becca and Tyler, to visit her parents while she goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. In real life this would be no big deal. In the wackadoo fantasy land of this movie, the kids have never met the grandparents before. You see, long ago mom fell in love with a boy. The parents disapproved and there was a big fight and mom was thrown out/left home and hasn’t had contact with the parents since. One of the kids, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker and is doing a project on forgiveness or something. It’s all a contrivance so she can film everything that happens.
Anyway, Mom puts the kids on a train to go to the bumfuck small town where the grandparents live. The old codgers seem fine, and are quite happy to meet their off-putting grandchildren. Then one night Becca sees grandma vomiting on the floor. The next day Tyler sees grandpa stashing dirty diapers in a shed. Later grandma laughs at a wall screaming about “the deep darkies!” and so on. Weird stuff starts happening damn near immediately and the kids shift between freaked out and eating cookies for the incredibly painful 94 minutes of run time.
The Visit starts with an exposition dump of near epic proportions. Why you ask? Because this incredibly contrived story doesn’t work unless certain conditions are met. Shayamalan obviously started with the premise and worked backward writing a script around that premise. Yes, once again our maestro of fart-sniffing is behind the pen here as well. He’s truly a master of none of the creative arts. Based on these bullets see if you can figure out the twist:
One: The kids have never met or apparently even seen the grandparents before.
Two: The grandparents volunteer at a local mental hospital
Three: upon arrival at the house the teens are told, “Don’t go in the basement. There’s mold down there.”
Four: People keep coming around saying they haven’t see the grandparents lately, conveniently when the grandparents aren’t around.
Five: The grandparents have wild mood swings, say and do weird things, and are degenerating mentally as the week goes on.
Fifteen minutes in and I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. As the movie continued I was certain I knew what was going on and I just wanted it to be over because it was so awful, and the kids may be the stupidest teenagers to grace the screen since a Friday the 13th sequel. Also, the kids call the grandparents “Nana” and “Pop-pop” from the start. Again, the kids have never met them before. It’s overly familiar and tries to sell the “All grandparents are wholesome, gentle, and as cozy as hot cocoa by a warm fire.” sentiment. It’s annoying how clearly the machine of the script stands out. The movie is garbage but crosses over in to “Are you fucking kidding me?!” infuriating when the twist is laid out. Which you probably already figured out just by reading this but I will spell it out.
Here’s the twist: Nana and Pop-pop aren’t the kid’s grandparents. They are crazy people from the asylum that murdered the grandparents with a hammer and stashed them in a dumpster in the basement. Along with all the photos of the grandparents. Mom informs the kids (and audience) – rather dispassionately under the circumstances I might add – that the couple are imposters when she finally sees them through Becca’s webcam on her laptop. She then calls the police and drives to save them. This occurs in the morning. Mom doesn’t show up with the cops until sometime around 11pm. For 12 hours at least Mom knows the kids are with people who are NOT her parents, have basically been kidnapped, yet the police aren’t called? Some obligatory bullshit about getting a voice mail when she calls the small town’s police station is meant to smooth over this glaring plot hole, but it only works if Mom hates her children and was hoping they would be chopped up like firewood by the time she arrived so she could get on with her life away from the dipshits. In the world of this movie there is apparently no such thing as a State Police, FBI, CPS, even a goddamn fire department, or any number of other public agencies that would probably have stepped in to try and get those kids out.
No, none of that happens because we have to set up the jaw-dropping finale where we see Becca and Tyler both beaten, assaulted, and nearly murdered, before turning the tables on Nana and Pop-pop and totally killing their old asses, just before running out of the house as both cop cars show up. Two. Not a dozen. Two. I’ve seen Cops. When someone jay-walks and gets lippy with a flatfoot a half dozen cars show up out of nowhere in 10 minutes to assist/watch/taze. Kidnapped children rates two cop cars in Shayamalan world. Because that makes sense.
I wish the movie ended there but it doesn’t. There is more. Because The Visit is not just an incredibly tasteless thriller about the horrors of crazy old people off their meds, it’s also about the power of forgiveness. And it ends, I shit you not, with Mom talking to Becca’s camera explaining how she always could have reconciled with her parents, she just chose not to. So her and Becca hug and it’s over. Except for the end credits featuring Tyler doing a free style rap, something he has done twice previously in the movie, each time more awful than the last.
It’s just a horrendous movie. Yes, it’s scary at times because it’s jumpy and crazy people are inherently scary. But it’s insensitive bordering on dangerous to treat crazy people as the antagonist in a movie. We have enough stigma and failure in our mental health system to heap this bullshit on top. There is some other garbage toward the end about Nana (we learn her real name is Claire) having killed her own children so that Shayamalan can justify having Becca plunge a shard of glass into Claire’s throat repeatedly. Yes, this horror-comedy (as it’s billed) ends with a 16 year old murdering a crazy old woman after Claire viciously assaults Becca slamming her head repeatedly into a mirror. Oh and Pop-pop takes off his shit-filled diaper and smears it on Tyler’s face. A literal visual mirroring what Shayamalan metaphorically does to the audience unlucky enough to watch The Visit.
Fuck this movie.