The Visit (2015) **1/2
D: M. Night Shyamalan
C: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Benjamin Kanes, Patch Darragh,
Plot Synopsis: A single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.
Review: In The Visit, we thrown into the middle of a broken family. Mom is divorced. Dad has moved to the other side of the country to be with his new girlfriend. Caught in the middle is two kids.
It turns out the kids have never met their grandparents, because their mom left home to be with their father. Now, after the drama with their parents, the kids are going to visit their grandparents for the first time. Everything seems fine, at first, but as the visit progresses, the grandparent's behavior becomes increasingly erratic with it seeming as though they're becoming mentally unstable.
It's suggested that the grandparents are suffering from a combination of schizophrenia & dementia. These scenes develop a sense of unease & tension as the kids aren't sure how to handle the situation. That sense of unease comes across tangibly. In between, there's well realized character vignettes, especially in scenes involving the kids trying to address why the grandparents and their mom don't have a relationship. Or, in another instance, there's a scene where the main character finds herself being interviewed by her brother about her own disconnect in life. It's a harrowing moment of great power that makes both the character and the audience confront feelings that the main character doesn't want to address.
However, in the grand tradition of an M. Night Shyamalan film, there's a twist, a plot twist that changes everything. This time around, the plot twist feels so artificial & phony that it nearly wipes out all of the good will established in the first two acts. It's one of those plot twists that makes you want to rewind the film so that you don't know about the plot twist.
Still, despite, this near fatal misstep, I still can't forget the moments of insight & sincerity that were established in the first two third's. It's a shame that M. Night Shyamalan wasn't brave enough to see that train of thought out and traded it in favor of something he considers more marketable (IE: a plot twist). [PG-13] 94 minutes.
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