I admit I’m a fan of the “found footage” subgenre (there is still inventive work being done, despite the crabby naysayers); I am not, however, a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I’m one of the very few people that thinks even his earlier films (yes, even The Sixth Sense) are overrated gimmicks. So the arrival of the trailer for The Visit brought mixed feelings.
On one hand I was happy that a “higher profile” director was tackling the found footage genre. I’m always curious when the technique gets the benefit of a bigger budget, more seasoned actors, etc. A few years ago Barry Levinson made The Bay, and, while I didn’t love it, I did find it interesting and unique (the “found footage” was actually discovered news reports rather than the standard novices with cameras rolling), but in the end, for me, it just wasn’t that scary.
On the other hand, however, I cringed when I saw The Visit was made by Mr. Shyamalan. Sorry, but I have to admit that I watched this trailer with a built-in, predisposed bias. The Village, Lady in the Water...The Happening (dear God). BUT, I like to think that wouldn’t be a reason to dismiss this film outright. I try and judge a movie based on its own merits, and nothing else. And if you don’t believe me, this is coming from a guy who saw The Happening in the theater (another dear God).
So let’s take a look at the trailer:
My first thought was, Hmm, psychotic grandparents. Okay, that’s at least original. I’m willing to go with that. And it’s clear that the filmmaking is well done. One thing you can’t take away from M. Night is that he knows how to use a camera. Even in his worst movies there are at least a few shots that make you say, “Wow.” So my thought while watching the trailer was maybe this is an attempt to put an original spin on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale (I got that feeling near the end, when grandma asks one of the kids to get in the oven). That’s a potentially cool idea.
But one major thought hit me as I was watching the trailer for The Visit; and it’s a HUGE issue... and this is the one aspect of found footage that can totally destroy its credibility:
Why are the kids filming everything?
Seriously, unless there’s something that the trailer doesn’t tell us I can’t see any logical reason why these kids are filming every second of their trip to grandma and grandpa’s house. None. During one scene you see a stationary camera set up next to their grandmother; so are they making some sort of documentary? Okay, but for what purpose? They’re KIDS.
I’m usually the type of person who will forgive a few moments in a found footage movie where it doesn’t seem logical that the people would still be filming, but to a point. Sometimes you just need a scene that shouldn’t have been filmed to further the story, and I’ll look past that; but with The Visit it seems like the ENTIRE movie shouldn’t have been filmed. So, unless there’s a valid reason why these kids are constantly shooting video that the trailer doesn’t address, this could be a major flaw. Hell, a fatal flaw.
Let me know your thoughts on The Visit. Are you like me and wonder if M. Night Shyamalan has had enough chances and it’s time for him to look for a different line of work, or does this look like the return of a once promising filmmaker?
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