Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie
Director: M Night Shyamalan
Oh, Shyamalan… Your name should be a verb for failed promise and unexpected hilarity…
This film is kind of awful and kind of great. In fact, you should see it on that basis alone. The premise is that two kids decide to film their visit to meet the grandparents they never met, but they find their relatives unsettlingly odd. The great thing is that it’s not a boring found footage blah-fest, but engagingly shot and beautifully lit, in a way that so many such films aren’t.
So, the grandparents almost immediately act strangely, making you question why the young teens opt to stay at all, but the performance by the older generation is really something, the actors revelling in playing weird, endearing and terrifying by turns, with increasing intensity.
Sounds great, right? It’s truly a clever premise for a film, and could have been a true classic. But it got Shyamalan-ed up.
There are repetitious and unfunny jokes about random people giving impromptu auditions which feel awkward and strange. Dialogue that nobody would be caught dead using, let alone teenagers. The brother has a truly awkward penchant for rapping, and am OCD issue that’s clearly inconsistent. The daughter has a shoehorned in self esteem problem because of their father abandoning them… And while there is an obligatory M Night twist which you probably won’t see coming… The rather harrowing events of the films ending leave the kids cheerful and unscathed. It ends with a truly odd choice of rap song.
And there’s so much more.
In essence, it makes for an interesting film clearly made by someone so out of touch with reality and other human beings. But it does make you jump, it does keep you guessing, and it clearly has its authors fingerprints all over it. In a backwards kind of way, I really enjoyed it.
See It If: you like Shyamalan, whether you view him as a horror or comedic genius, or if old people freak you out.