The Visit (2015 American film)
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Edited by||Luke Ciarrocchi|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$98.5 million|
The Visit is a 2015 American found footage horror-comedy film written, co-produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn. The film centers around teenage Becca and her younger brother Tyler who live with their single mother, who left home 15 years ago and is estranged from her parents. After finding their grandchildren online and wanting to meet them, the grandparents invite them to spend a week at their farm, while their mother goes off with her boyfriend.
The film was released in North America on September 11, 2015, by Universal Pictures. It grossed $98.5 million worldwide against a $5 million production budget and received generally positive reviews from critics.
Two siblings from Philadelphia, 15-year-old Becca and 13-year-old Tyler, prepare for a five-day visit with their grandparents while their divorced mother Loretta goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. Loretta reveals that she has not spoken to her parents in 15 years after marrying her high-school teacher, of whom her parents disapproved. Having never met their grandparents, the teens plan to record a documentary film about their visit using a camcorder.
Becca and Tyler meet their grandparents, referred to as "Nana" and "Pop Pop," at a train station. When they arrive at their isolated farmhouse, Becca and Tyler are instructed to never go into the basement because it contains mold, and that bedtime is at 9:30 every evening, after which they shouldn't leave their room. The first night, an hour past curfew, Becca ventures downstairs for something to eat and sees Nana projectile vomiting all over the house, which frightens her. She tells Pop Pop, who dismisses it as Nana having the stomach flu. He then reminds her not to leave their bedroom after 9:30 pm.
Over the next few days, Becca and Tyler notice their grandparents exhibiting more peculiar and disturbing behavior. Tyler walks into Pop Pop's shed and finds a large pile of soiled adult diapers. Becca asks Nana about the day Loretta left home, and Nana begins to shake and scream. Later, Pop Pop and Nana are confronted by a woman they helped in counseling, and she goes into the backyard with them but is never seen leaving. Concerned about the events, Tyler decides to secretly film what happens downstairs at night, but Nana discovers the hidden camera, retrieves a large knife, and tries unsuccessfully to break into the children's locked bedroom.
When Becca and Tyler view the camera footage of Nana with the knife, they contact Loretta and beg her to come get them. They show Loretta her parents while they are outside and can't see into the house. Loretta panics and says those are not her parents. Realizing that they have been with strangers all week, the teenagers try to leave the house, but Nana and Pop Pop trap them inside and force them to play Yahtzee. Later, Becca sneaks into the basement and finds the corpses of her real grandparents, along with uniforms from the mental hospital at which they worked, revealing the impostors as escaped patients. Pop Pop grabs Becca and imprisons her in his bedroom with Nana, who tries to attack her in a psychotic fit. He then torments Tyler psychologically by smearing his face with his dirty diaper. Becca fatally stabs Nana with a glass shard from a broken mirror, then runs into the kitchen and attacks Pop Pop. As Pop Pop starts to gain the upper hand, Tyler knocks him to the floor and kills him by repeatedly slamming his head in the refrigerator. The teens escape outside unharmed, where they are met by their mother and police officers.
In the aftermath, Becca asks Loretta about what happened the day she left home 15 years ago. Loretta states that she had a major argument with her parents, during which she hit her mother and was then struck by her father. Loretta then left home and ignored their attempts to contact her. Loretta concludes that reconciliation was always possible had she wanted it. She then tells Becca not to hold on to anger over her father's abandonment of her.
- Olivia DeJonge as Becca
- Ed Oxenbould as Tyler
- Deanna Dunagan as Marja Bella Jamison (Claire), also known as "Nana"
- Peter McRobbie as Frederick Spencer Jamison (Mitchell), also known as "Pop Pop"
- Kathryn Hahn as Loretta Jamison, Becca and Tyler's mother
- Patch Darragh as Dr. Sam
- Celia Keenan-Bolger as Stacey
- Benjamin Kanes as Corin, Becca and Tyler's father
After The Last Airbender and After Earth failed critically, Shyamalan funded The Visit by borrowing $5 million against his home. 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. Shyamalan's Blinding Edge Pictures was the production company, with Shyamalan and Marc Bienstock producing, and Steven Schneider and Ashwin Rajan as executive producers.
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.
Because Shyamalan wanted to avoid reinforcing his reputation for plot twists, The Visit was the director's first film in several years with such a surprise. Every Hollywood studio passed on the rough cut, and Shyamalan feared that he would lose the millions he had invested in the film. 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". After revisions Universal Pictures agreed to distribute the film, and producer Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse Productions were included in the credits.
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 was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 5, 2016.
The Visit grossed over $65.2 million in the United States and Canada and over $33.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of over $98.4 million, against a budget of $5 million. The film grossed $25.4 million in its opening weekend, finishing second at the box office behind The Perfect Guy by just $460,000. Shyamalan kept a list of Hollywood executives who had refused to distribute The Visit, stating in 2018 that most had since been fired.
The Visit received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68%, based on 228 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. 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". Audiences polled by CinemaScore 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". She, along with other critics, saw the film as a modern-day version of the classic fairytale Hansel and Gretel.
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 "dull, derivative and flatly unscary."
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Wide Release Film||M. Night Shyamalan||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Deanna Dunagan||3rd place|
|Fright Meter Awards||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Award||The Razzie Redeemer Award||M. Night Shyamalan||Nominated|
|Golden Schmoes Award||Best Horror Movie of the Year||Nominated|
|Online Film & Television Association Award||Best Youth Performance||Ed Oxenbould||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Performance by a Youth||Nominated|
|Rondo Hatton Classic Horror||Rondo Statuette for Best Movie||M. Night Shyamalan||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Horror Film||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Olivia DeJonge||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film||Nominated|
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- "Review: 'The Visit' Is 'Hansel and Gretel' With Less Candy and More Camcorders". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- Murphy, Kathleen (September 10, 2015). "Film Review: The Visit". Retrieved February 4, 2017.
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- "Review: 'ill-judged shenanigans from M Night Shyamalan'". The Guardian. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
- "Review: 'M Night Shyamalan's found-footage loser'". The Guardian. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
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