(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem that looks at something from different viewpoints, such as how differently children view their grandparents.)
A visit with grandparents can be generous and merry;
Depending on the child, though, reactions often vary.
Eager meeting, cheers of greeting,
Warm embraces, tender faces,
Cookies, pies, and counsel wise,
And cash they share for being there.
The rarity of reprimand
Will make you wish all parents were grand.
Cheeky pinching, optic squinching,
Cling embraces, wrinkled faces,
Jell-O, prunes, and no cartoons,
And elder smells from creams and gels.
You wipe off lipstick with your sleeve
And count the minutes till you leave.
Basements dreary, habits eerie,
Laughs as cackles, rules as shackles;
Attempts at cheer inspire fear,
An aged nightmare to keep you there.
Although dread comes with every visit,
I’m sure it’s nothing to fear, or is it?
MPAA rating: PG-13
After a string of films that ranged from poor to terrible (The Last Airbender being the absolute worst), M. Night Shyamalan gave his fans hope of a comeback with The Visit, a small but effective found-footage horror for everyone who was ever afraid of their grandparents. (Not me, of course.) Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) finally get to meet their grandparents, who reach out to their estranged daughter (Kathryn Hahn) and propose a five-day visit. While Mom is off on a cruise, the kids enjoy quality time with Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), a week that slowly takes a turn for the weird.
I’ve never been a fan of the shaky-cam found-footage style, except for Lunopolis, but The Visit finds a decent reason for everything to be caught on tape, namely Becca’s attempt to help her mom and grandparents reconcile through her recordings and interviews. Plus, she’s an aspiring filmmaker, and she and her brother apparently enjoy filming everything. At first, they record the quaint pleasures of meeting new family members and good-natured sibling bickering, but soon Pop Pop and especially Nana begin showing signs of bizarre behavior, particularly after dark. The first-person perspective does lend itself to some genuinely creepy moments, from an intense game of tag in the house’s crawlspace to slow reveals as the camera-holder approaches something eerie. In true horror fashion, Shyamalan imbues tension into seemingly ordinary things, like cleaning the oven, and in true Shyamalan fashion, there are clues dropped that don’t make total sense until a certain twist.
The one thing that I can’t quite reconcile is the description of The Visit as a horror comedy. I suppose it’s laughable that the kids and their mother at first blame the grandparents’ abnormalities on just being old, but there’s little here that I would consider funny, unless you’re amused by intense weirdness. In addition, the final explanation for everything has some shock value at first, but how it plays out is rather conventional, detracting from all the buildup. I did admire the fine performances and some subtle themes of forgiveness and letting go of resentment, especially at the end, but, even if it’s a step in the right direction, The Visit is still a far cry from Shyamalan’s early successes.
Best line: (Becca, explaining away a midnight snack) “I can’t sleep. I need Nana’s cookies. I’m gonna turn a personal addiction into a positive cinematic moment.”
Rank: Honorable Mention
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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