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Movie review: Shyamalan’s ‘Visit’ frighteningly bad

Olivia DeJonge plays the role of Becca in “The Visit.”
Olivia DeJonge plays the role of Becca in “The Visit.” TNS

There’s a scene in the new M. Night Shyamalan offering “The Visit” where a young boy gets a soiled adult diaper rubbed in his face. That’s what watching this latest fiasco from Shyamalan is like.

The director – who is redefining the schlock film genre with his idiotic plots and sloppy direction – has put together another poorly written offering that also has the visual inspiration of a blank piece of paper. Shyamalan has put so little effort into making this film he resorts to the “found footage” gimmick that went out of favor years ago.

For those who have mercifully forgotten what the found-footage style is, that’s when it appears that those in the movie have actually filmed all the scenes with their cameras and cell phones.

It was bad enough when Shyamalan was just making bad movies. Now, he’s not even trying.

Shyamalan goes back to the theme he’s tried so many times before: isolation. From the society-hiding occupants of “The Village” to the lone space hero in “After Earth,” the director/writer has a fixation with separating people from the general population.

In the case of “The Visit,” the isolated world is Masonville, Pa., a town where the police work only every other weekend and there is no cell service. These outlandish contrivances are necessary if the plot has any hope of working. It still doesn’t help. If you don’t guess the big twist in this story by 15 minutes into the film, you fell asleep at 10 minutes.

M. Night Shyamalan remains best-known for the 1999 hit “The Sixth Sense.”

Thrown into this isolated world are youngsters Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). They have agreed to travel to the small town to spend a week with the grandparents they have never met. It doesn’t seem to bother their mom (Kathryn Hahn) that she walked out of the family home because of an incident so serious she’s not spoken to her parents in 15 years.

But, who needs logic when there’s a limp plot that needs all the help it can get?

The first couple of days go OK except for Nana’s (Deanna Dunagan) constant cooking and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie) obsession with chopping wood. They seem as bored as the audience. Slowly, the grandparents start displaying odd actions such as Nana running around the house naked and Pop Pop collecting nasty trash like many collect baseball cards.

Anyone with one brain cell would think something is seriously wrong. But, characters in a Shyamalan movie aren’t allowed to have even one brain cell. They must blindly go through absurd actions in a failed attempt to create tension.

Would anyone with any brains agree to crawl inside a massive oven when Nana has already started showing the logical thinking of Jason Voorhees?

Any tension that might have been created gets killed by the found footage. It’s bad enough the cameras keep rolling at the start as Becca is putting together a documentary. It all turns absurd when the lives of the children are threatened and they continue to keep the cameras rolling. I’ll bet even Kim Kardashian would set down her camera if she were seconds from being killed.

There’s only one reason Shyamalan opted for the found-footage technique: He can always say that it was Becca who shot such a massively awful movie.

It’s one thing to use the method if your budget is $12. Shyamalan can afford to hire an editor – unless he’s saving for when he no longer can live on the success of the only good movie he has made, “The Sixth Sense,” 16 years ago.

The found footage is not the only place where Shyamalan shows that he has the directing ability of a stump. The few real attempts to put scares in the movie come down to Dunagan running around the room, crawling across the floor and popping up in front of the camera. These are all contrivances worn out long ago in a host of other – and much better – scary movies.

About the only good thing that can be said about “The Visit” is that Shyamalan’s “The Village” is no longer the worst movie the director has ever made. “The Visit” is so bad that if you are given the option between seeing the movie and having a soiled adult diaper rubbed in your face, take the diaper. At least that stink can wash off pretty quickly.

The Visit

Movie Review

No stars

  • Rated PG-13 for brief nudity, language, disturbing images
  • Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Peter McRobbie, Deanna Dunagan
  • Directed by M.. Night Shyamalan
  • Running time: 94 minutes
  • Opens Friday, Sept. 11

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