Sunday, September 13, 2015

"The Visit": When visiting old people, stay in your room at night

M. Night Shyamalan is simply entertaining us again with “The Visit”, which comes across as a mix of “Modern Family” (mockumentary) with “Paranormal”, with a touch of “The Blair Witch Project” in the climax (and maybe a touch of "Body Snatchers").
A single mom (Kathryn Hahn) tells of her past illicit love with a substitute teacher (maybe she was seductive), but resulting in a marriage that last ten years and produced two smart kids, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). When prodded, she sends the kids on a winter break visit to grandma’s farm in Masonville, PA (the real town is Masontown).

Pop (Peter McRobbie) and Nana (Deanna Dunagan) are just a little creepy, and they want the kids to stay in bed after 9:30 because “we’re old people”.  But that’s after the kids saw Nana vomiting the first night, and then running wild. 

Some comical scary scenes (including Nana’s asking Becca, “Will you climb inside the oven to clean it?” carry the movie for a while, until the kids decide to secretly videotape the couple.  Maybe that’s inspired by “Paranormal”, maybe even by the Rutgers tragedy. When they talk to Mom by Skype, things start to unravel.

There’s other stuff here.  Mom, in an earlier video call, shows the kids a reality TV “hairy chest” contest on a cruise ship.  A curious interest indeed. 

I’m not sure that I get the epilogue, but the end credits had a wonderful art song with piano.

The official site is here (named “Stay in your Room”), from Universal. Despite the branding, the movie has the style of arthouse stuff.  Like Alfred Hitchcock, Shyamalan prefers to use standard aspect ratio. 

The indoor scenes were filmed largely at Universal in Orlando.  The movie was heavily promoted in the theme park when I was there in July.

I saw this film Saturday night before a large audience in a large auditorium at Regal Ballston Common. 
Picture: Waynesboro, PA, I think (mine, April 2015). 

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