The Visit Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
2015, 94 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray and DVD released on January 5th, 2016
Olivia DeJonge as Becca
Ed Oxenbould as Tyler
Deanna Dunagan as Nana
Peter McRobbie as Pop Pop
Kathryn Hahn as Loretta
After being estranged from her parents for more than 15 years over a bitter falling out centering on (go figure) a boyfriend, Loretta is tracked down on the internet by the two and they plead for her to allow them to see their grandchildren, Becca and Tyler. While Loretta isn't ready to reunite with her folks just yet, she does allow her kids to spend a week with them because she's a good mom. 15-year-old Becca is a budding filmmaker and decides to document the trip and perhaps find out what was so awful that happened that severed the relationship of her mom and grandparents. Soon enough, however, she finds out that's the least of her and her brother's concerns.
When I posted on our Instagram account that I was currently watching The Visit, one of our social media followers asked a pretty damn good question, "Honestly... how did you find The Visit? Is it a The Sixth Sense thing or The Lady in the Water thing?" Part of my reply was, "Neither, really. Stands on its own." And it does, but I found it interesting that The Visit writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has been so completely hit or miss since his debut film, The Sixth Sense, that it's a valid way to judge his films.
However, while The Visit is no Sixth Sense, that doesn't mean it's bad, or even should be criticized for it. Shyamalan captured lightning in a bottle with his debut film, and try as he might, he will never recapture that success. Unfortunately, people will forever judge him on that movie (but that's not to say he isn't partially to blame; forced twists do not make a movie good, it's everything that comes up to it).
With The Visit, it feels like Shyamalan has gotten back to basics. It's rather intimate with its low budget and actors that aren't household names; it's as if he did this for himself and the love of the craft more than anything else, and it shows.
Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould as siblings Becca and Tyler knock it out of the park. These two are so convincing as brother and sister on screen that I freely admit I looked them up on IMDB to see if they were related and was surprised to see they weren't. They work well together, with amazing synergy, and when the shit hits the fan, you know they have each other's back. And damn if Tyler's decision of not cussing and instead using alternative words made me laugh each time he shouted them (and made up for his very awkward rap scenes).
Even better, as good as DeJonge and Oxenbould are, it's Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as Nana and Pop Pop that steal this movie; especially Dunagan. She is effectively creepy as the elderly lady, what with her chasing the kids under the house, projectile vomiting, and always asking Becca to get in the stove – all the way in it – so it can be cleaned. McRobbie's Pop Pop does well with his own...habits, such as the collection of...well, let's just say he has quite the collection of something out there in that barn.
The fact that this is a mockumentary will put a lot of people off, but as someone who still loves them when done right, The Visit absolutely delivers and should be given a shot by even those who are tired of the genre. It's a wonderful mix of humor and chills (and there's far more of the latter, I promise), and at times even a little touching. This is about children reuniting with long lost relatives after all.
The Visit not only shows that M. Night Shyamalan still has it, it makes you question if he even lost it. It's well worth checking out.
Video and Audio:
The Visit's 1.85:1 presentation is absolutely gorgeous. Becca has chosen some pretty good cameras to shoot her documentary because colors are bright and vivid, flesh tones natural, solid blacks, and plenty of fine object detail. This really shouldn't be surprising for a movie made in the past two years, but it's a very satisfying picture regardless.
A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is provided and it gets more of a workout than I would have expected. The surrounds are used very well here, adding to the creep factor going on the screen.
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making of The Visit
- Becca's Photos
This is one of the rare cases where the alternate ending (2:25) provided is just as good as the one used for the film. Both endings are satisfactory and I'm curious why Shyamalan went one way over the other.
There are ten deleted scenes (8:34). It's clear that they were cut to trim the running time and lose excess fat, and while enjoyable, the movie is better off without them.
I watched The Making of The Visit (9:56) after writing the body of my review, and it was pleasing to see that Shyamalan himself acknowledges that this was a "going back to the basics" film. I enjoyed this piece, if only that I feel like I should win something for getting it right. That doesn't happen often, kids.
Rounding it out is Becca's Photos (1:14), which is a photo gallery, in case you didn't figure it out.
It kills me that the Blu-ray technology affords the ability to have tons of extra features and we're getting less and less of them with each new release. I would have loved to have heard a commentary on this, or something else except the standard throwaway features.