Did you ever have long holiday visits to your grandparents house, where they played board games with you and baked cookies? Walks in the country, talking about what your parents were like when they were kids? Ever thought that would make for an interesting horror film? Well, in this film, it kinda does.
Two kids – a rap obsessed brother and his older, camera-weilding sister – decide to give their mother a break by going to stay with her estranged parents in the country while she goes on a cruise. The sister is a budding documentary maker, and she plans on filming the whole thing – including interviews that will explain their families rift to them. But they both soon realise that something is very wrong with their grandparents, and they may have bitten off more than they can chew.
It’s an M Night Shyamalan movie, so you can expect oddness, awkwardness, some scares, and an obligatory twist in the ending that you may or may not see coming, but out of all of his recent output, this is one of his better films. Though it’s by no means of the same standard as The Sixth Sense.
This film is kind of awful and kind of great, and I think that there’s something about that balance that makes this film really fun. Perhaps it’s not meant to be fun, but it is. The septugenerian actors are clearly loving every minute of hamming it up and being deliciously creepy. They are actually really scary at times, and kind of sweet at others, which adds a layer of intrigue. And although I thoroughly hate found footage films, this one doesn’t look or play like one at all. You’re not going to get motion sickness watching this one. (But you are going to get a grandmother who bakes cookies, and then gets her granddaughter to climb into the oven to clean it. It’s that kind of movie)
The main problem with the film is really the Shyamalan signature flourishes, which means adding in enough awkward repetitious jokes, rapping and dialogue you’ll never hear a teenager using to make the film feel like it’s trying really hard. The kids issues (one who films everything but can’t look as herself in the mirror, the other inconsistent OCD) are so shoe-horned and inconsistent. And it all ends with an upbeat rap number that will make you cringe, but you won’t be able to look away.
It’s a film by someone completely out of touch, but that’s what makes it Shyamalan, and it does have truly harrowing moments. It’s oddly amusing, and should creep out anyone who already has a fear of older people.
EXTRAS: An Alternate Ending (2:25) which, no spoilers, lacks impact and tension, so I guess they picked the right ending; 10 Deleted Scenes, which are interesting, but were cut with good reason; and an oddly cheerful Making Of documentary (10:00) which is mostly M Night Shyamalan talking about his "rebirth" (read: comeback) and some small insight from the producer about "extracting the ego" from the film making process. It's kind of hilarious, with its focus on the director more than on the film.