Halloween 2018: The Visit (2015)

It sure feels like I’m working backwards one year after next as I work through the films. Trust me, it isn’t deliberate. Next up is 2015’s The Visit, somewhat considered a comeback directorial film from M. Night Shyamalan. I have only seen The Sixth Sense from him so I have no idea about his career.

The Visit (2015)

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation. – IMDB

I am probably about the only person who doesn’t know much about The Visit. I honestly chose this one off a whim, remembering it had mixed opinions. With that said, all I knew was that grandkids visit their grandparents and stuff happens like most horror movies would go. Not a whole lot to go on so expectations are non-existent. With that said, The Visit turned out to be quite good. Usually, I figure out twists pretty well but I didn’t finish convincing myself of it before it took the route that it did. Maybe it had to do with the similarity to an elementary school camping creepy tale that made this one feel more effective for me.

I enjoy films that use a documentary format to play up the events because when it is done well, it helps to keep some things under wraps and there are things left to imagination in the mysterious zone. The Visit works relatively well in that department especially since the events are highlighted a lot with noises here and there. The bumps at night are generally overused in horror films but because we never quite know what to expect whenever the kids see what is causing the noise. On top of that, its a question of what is causing the odd behavior in their grandparents. Creepy grandparents somehow have its effectiveness and these ones have the unexpected factor.

Its interesting to see how Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould was both in Better Watch out (review) after this film. They are very good young actors and they definitely excel in their roles here. The same goes for the grandparents here played by Deanna Dunagan and McRobbie. They are sufficiently creepy. There are some bits especially with the grandma that has hints of fairy tale stories and also, she has one scene under the house that is crazy creepy notched up to level eleven. That is just a quick example.

Overall, the story here feels fairly simple. The reason this works to a decent horror extent is in the mystery of how it is filmed and executed. If it was in traditional filming, it might not have been as effective. The creepy moments were in the unknown and a lot of the off frame and creepy ambient sounds used here. The twist was also relatively clever. Thinking back, it wasn’t completely hard to figure out but I was sold on the twist.

Have you seen The Visit?
Are you a fan of M. Night Shyamalan films?

Fantasia Festival 2017: Better Watch Out (2017)

Better Watch Out (2017)

better watch out

Director: Chris Peckover

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Dacre Montgomery, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion. – IMDB

Home invasion films have been done to death. Honestly, there have been some hits in the last few years but its been a while that we have been thoroughly impressed. Maybe the exception would be Hush. This year’s Fantasia brings us the Canadian premiere of a home invasion film with a Home Alone twist previously called Safe Neighborhood but recently retitled Better Watch Out. It is directed by Chris Peckover who also was attending the festival to present his film. A perfect addition to the Festival as it fit perfectly in the Christmas in July theme. To further explain the Home Alone point, this features a boy and his babysitter as their Christmas night just got a lot more ominous as they realize that the house is being invaded.

Better Watch Out is a fantastic twist on the home invasion concept. It keeps up well with the intensity while offering more than enough laugh out loud black comedy moments. If surprises you with its characters who truly show off their true nature to stay alive. Its a fun ride with so many unexpected moments and what you probably won’t usually see with this one. The cast is also full of familiar faces. In a shorter role but done so well are the parents played by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton. They bring in a fun performance full of laughs and witty remarks. The big performances here are however with Luke, the twelve year old son played by Levi Miller (recently in Pan) who has a crush on his seventeen year old babysitter, Ashley played by Olivia DeJonge (recently in The Visit). In true John Hughes love that Chris Peckover talked about afterwards, this was where we saw a lot of awkward teen comedy as the early moments saw Lucas trying to get attention.

It is hard to talk about this one without ruining your experience so lets just say that Better Watch Out does a great job at executing the twist and then letting everything fall apart and come together. While some parts do get a little overboard, there is so much to love in the dialogue and the intensity, the black comedy and the clever characters and twists that makes this one a must-see. You’ll be surprised over and over again and when you finish this, you may want to go back and figure out those details you missed the first time around. Better Watch Out is a home invasion movie but also a perfect addition to the non-traditional Christmas movie that will make you want to watch over and over again because its not only fun but so incredibly clever. This one is a must-see!

Better Watch Out will be in theatres in October on limited release and will land online some time in December.