M. Night Shyamalan became a hit when 1999’s The Sixth Sense provided one of the biggest twists in cinematic history. Following his huge hit was 2000’s Unbreakable and 2002’s Signs and while neither were of the same caliber as his original thriller, he was still on the same track. Then came 2004’s The Village, one of many disasters to come, including Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and 2013’s After Earth.
From 2004 on, M. Night Shyamalan’s career has slid down a Porta Potty of crud-filled, vomit-inducing, money-shredding, frostbitten, magma-covered gore that would sicken any sensible human being but would only further inflate the ego of the Indian import.
And yet, after all of the crushed dreams of fans, the seemingly innumerable actors that have been humiliated in front of his lenses and the many studios who have lost more than their wallets thanks to his reckless pursuits, critics wonder if anything close to The Sixth Sense could still be conjured by his witchcraft. The Sixth Sense was such a landmark in film that’s it difficult for film loyalists to believe it was all a fluke and so, Shyamalan is given chance after chance. This has no doubt spurred his self-obsession beyond its bounds and in return, he’s managed to corrupt his latest pursuits to new highs. No matter how potent or impotent an idea is, no matter how much or how little talent he has in front of him, no matter how boundless or constricted his budget is, Shyamalan has time and time again demonstrated his undying consistency for creating boisterous failures of altitudes that many Asylum films, cheap projects that were meant to demonstrate absurdity, can applaud.
Shyamalan is without question the biggest joke in the Hollywood spotlight and yet when the discussion of Shyamalan’s latest exploits arise, the continued question of, “Could he come back?” is served and pondered for the umpteenth time. With so little evidence of improvement or creative life in his work, it would seem hazardous if not unprofessional for me to answer in the affirmative, yet this is how I have answered every time. The Sixth Sense is too strong, as was Signs, for Shyamalan to be a fluke.
Well, today is the day I play my violin to a different tune because The Visit is Shyamalan’s final straw with me. I am done. Forgiveness is not something that can be earned. It can only be bestowed by someone who believes their offender is sincerely sorry for their transgressions and will better themselves for the future and I refuse to believe that Shyamalan fulfills either requirement.
To start with, enjoy found footage? The correct answer is no. The found footage technique made popular in the horror genre is by far the laziest production tactic I have ever seen in any film pursuit. You could not care any less about your product aside from strapping that camera to a puppy and hoping by the grace of God he would travel in the direction you require him to and in a stable enough manner that your audience could discern what was going on, yet I would wager that not only has this been done before but that it has been done to a higher degree than it has been done by some of the actors engaged in these projects. In very few films has this quest led to success or to creative visuals. Having people jump in front of an immobile camera and make a scary face is not scary. That is a task anyone with a head on their shoulders could replicate.
Well, put your hands together, because Shyamalan has completely given up on directing the lens for this endeavor. It’s part of directing, hell it’s part of the storytelling, but at this point, Shyamalan just doesn’t care I guess. Shooting scenes is an art in and of itself, providing audiences with unique angles and perspectives that we wouldn’t have if our actors were to say, have a GoPro on their head. We’re one step away from that here. One step.
To call The Visit frustrating is putting it lightly and more importantly, pleasantly. No matter how hard I tried, there is no way I could tell you how many times my fingers went through my hair in agitation and indiscernible angst. I’m struggling to find the words to demonstrate what pain was going through me. It is crippling how dumb this is. Your whole body just wants to quit. You can practically hear it screaming, “Free me!” as if it’s been imprisoned by a crazed fiend from an alternate dimension. You can hear the angel of smart decisions on your shoulder giggling, whispering, “This wasn’t one of them.” There were times when I contemplated breathing, contemplated life and my existence, but none of these things happened during my viewing of The Visit.
No, what happened during The Visit was not philosophical nor did it involve any level of thinking. I could feel the brain cells dying inside my head and I could hear my head echoing, there was so little going on up there. I have not felt that empty-headed and that devoid of emotion in a long time.
If The Visit succeeds at anything, it is its undeniable ability to remain less interesting than a corpse its entire first half. A corpse has an intimidating presence and crisp detail. On the flip side, Shyamalan’s storytelling carries no tension, hook or delicacy to it. The solemness, atmosphere and unsettling tinge that Shyamalan used to so easily create has never been rekindled.
Shyamalan attempts to shoehorn comedy into the script, lows I never thought he would dive to but evidently I was wrong. Said comedy serves as a great antagonist to building up what makes a film scary, like conflict, suspense, you know, basic stuff. Cracking a joke lightens the mood and relieves all of that tension in one quick swoop. Shyamalan serves as an obstacle to his own film.
The character writing from Shyamalan is so weak that it’s genuinely difficult for me to blame the participants in Shyamalan’s latest debacle. Our two young protagonists who decide to visit their grandparents are so odd and out-of-place that it contrasts with what the tone of a horror film should be. It is a film removed from ominous decorum. Shyamalan mixes such a contrast of off-putting humor and desperate scares that he creates a concoction that hinders anything it could have achieved. Its chemistry emits such an imbalance that it’s like riding an off-kilter seesaw. Bumbling up and down with no center of gravity, remaining directionless (play on words intended), the purpose is lost in the chaos and all you can think about is when you can get off this outdated charade of a contraption.
This movie was so scarring I could feel my mouth hang agape and saliva collect in my mouth like a baby engrossed in a trance. My brain, had I been able to look at it, probably looked like scrambled eggs underneath a magnifying glass in the Orlando heat. It was roasting and by the film’s conclusion, it was an ashtray.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods, Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Hercules, The Sentinel, Mad Max: Fury Road, Blitz, The Punisher)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost Boys, Zombeavers, Crank, Erased, I, Frankenstein)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Centurion, Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice)
20-29 What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Fantastic Four, The Boy Next Door, The Colony, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, The Grey)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage, Gallowwalkers, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil)
My score for The Visit: 25.
The last line of dialogue in this movie is, “And shit don’t taste like chicken.”
I am still in bewilderment that this line got past the first draft let alone the final copy.
With more decomposition and negligence than most of his films, The Visit is a strong candidate for the worst film of 2015. The film has gotten mixed reviews, some going so far as to call it a return to form for Shyamalan, but these same people are calling it cheap fun. In other words, no, no it is not. Don’t plan a visit to see The Visit.