While it's great to see M. Night Shyamalan return to the twisty horror genre, his use of found-footage leaves the film feeling like a decent premise with nowhere to go. Presented as a documentary made by a teenager, the movie is relentlessly uninteresting, only watchable because of a few mild jolts and a blackly comical freakishness. Otherwise, the characters are too thinly drawn, and the story too gimmicky.
It opens as a single mother (Kathryn Hahn) reconnects with her parents on Facebook after 15 years estrangement. Instead of going home to see them herself, she books a holiday with her new boyfriend and sends her teen kids, cynical Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and clownish Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), to stay with Nana and Pop-pop (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie). But as Becca and Tyler videotape the experience, they begin to worry about their grandparents' sanity. Maybe it's just old age, or perhaps they are "sundowners", pensioners who go a bit mad at nighttime. And as things get progressively bizarre, both of them begin to worry that perhaps there's something locked in the basement that Nana and Pop-pop don't want them to see.
Everything on-screen is shot on cameras supposedly wielded by Becca and Tyler, although several scenes are implausible or frankly impossible. Shyamalan does a nice job creating a creepy vibe, then throws things suddenly into the frame to make the audience jump. But there isn't a single moment of proper suspense, mainly because it's all played for laughs: as if senile old people are hilarious. Until they become menacing, of course. Shyamalan pushes this idea with a very heavy hand, attempting to manipulate the audience's response by slowly dribbling out revelations that aren't particularly clever or surprising. And through it all, there's the nagging sense that nothing about the script holds water, starting with a mother's willingness to send her kids on their own to stay with parents she has avoided for a decade and a half.
Continue reading: The Visit Review
A young brother and sister have travelled to their grandparent's house for a week long holiday. Over that time, they have had tremendous excitement and made their grandmother happier than she's been in years, according to their grandfather. When they head to bed on the first day, their grandfather informs them that bedtime is 9:30pm, and they aren't to leave the room after that time. They agree, as it appears to be a seemingly normal request, but they soon start hearing terrifying noises in the darkness. Now, trapped in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, the children must unearth the secrets of their grandmother, and hopefully escape before it's too late.
Continue: The Visit - Teaser Trailer
There's nothing wrong with this bright and goofy family comedy, but there's nothing much to it either. As a bit of mindless entertainment, the film is smart and funny enough to keep audiences entertained, spinning a swirling vortex of bad luck and wacky slapstick around one lively family. But it's utterly weightless, without even a hint of an edge, and anyone who loathes either nutty physical gags or sappy sentimentality should steer well clear.
Everyone in the audience can understand how Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) feels: he's fed up with the fact that no one notices that his life is just one humiliation after another, so on his 12th birthday he wishes that his family would have a taste of his misfortune. Sure enough, everything that can go wrong does. Dad Ben (Steve Carell) has to take the baby with him to an important job interview; mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a work event go horribly wrong; teen brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) struggles to make prom night special for his demanding-diva girlfriend (Bella Thorne); and middle sister Emile (Kerris Dorsey) gets ill on opening night of the school play she's starring in. On the other hand, Alexander's day isn't so bad, as he finally catches the eye of cute girl Becky (Sidney Fullmer).
The plot is laid out as a series of minor calamities that escalate to crazed proportions as the day goes on, but only until the screenwriter decides to have mercy on the characters and let them bond to face the mayhem. Frankly, this is such a wildly happy family that nothing about the film is believable: their problems exist strictly for laughs. Thankful, most of the set pieces are genuinely funny due to the up-for-it actors, who make the most of their characters and the connections between them. There's also a terrific stream of cameo roles for comedy aces like Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) and Donald Glover (Parks and Recreation). Dick Van Dyke even makes a witty appearance as himself.
Continue reading: Alexander And The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day Review
Alexander is an 11-year-old boy who experiences a series of disastrous events in just one day, from waking up with chewing gum stuck in his hair and tripping over in front of the girl he likes to someone at school sending round embarrassing photos of him and him setting fire to the science lab. His family seem to be having the best day ever though with his father looking at an impressive new job and his brother looking forward to getting his driver's license. The next day, however, the tables have turned as everyone sleeps in, his father seems out of his depth in his job interview, the baby eats felt tip pen and his brother crashes the family car during his driving exam. While everyone wallows in their own bad luck, it's up to Alexander to realise that he's not the only one who has bad days - and remind his family of that too.
While it's great to see M. Night Shyamalan return to the twisty horror genre, his...
A young brother and sister have travelled to their grandparent's house for a week long...
There's nothing wrong with this bright and goofy family comedy, but there's nothing much to...