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The Visit (Blu-ray Review)

VisitA family visit takes a terrifying turn when two siblings learn who Grandma and Grandpareally are in The Visit, a found documentary-style suspense thriller coming to Digital HD on December 15, 2015, and Blu-ray and DVD as well as On Demand on January 5, 2016 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The first collaboration from Academy Award®-nominated writer-director M. Night Shyamalan and Academy Award-nominated producer Jason Blum, The Visit Blu-ray and DVD are packed with spine-tingling exclusive bonus features including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette, and a suspenseful alternate ending.  Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent,” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Paper Planes), Olivia DeJonge (“Hiding,” The Sisterhood of Night), Peter McRobbie (Lincoln, Spider-Man 2) and Deanna Dunagan (Have a Little Faith, Running Scared) star in a dementedly frightening thriller that Shawn Edwards of Fox-TV praises as “Creepy and suspenseful!”

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Film 

When Becca and Tyler are sent to their grandparents’ secluded Pennsylvania farmhouse for a weeklong stay, they quickly discover something is not right with the elderly couple. Faced with strange rules and increasingly frightening behavior, the children soon realize it will take all their wits to make it home alive.

The Visit is touted as a return to form for the long fallen director M. Night Shyamalan.  And it truly is.  Taking himself from big budgeted studio productions to a small Blumhouse found footage film shot in Pennsylvania are pretty much the two ends of the spectrum.  Shyamalan is able to deliver a film that is every bit the strengths he showed us in his first few films, and almost broken down to a more basic structure and story than even those had to begin with.

One of Shyamalan’s talents is working with children or young actors.  Our protagonists from the offset are a brother and sister.  Having their mom be Kathryn Hahn gives him bonus points from me!  Both feel like possibly the most free, real and natural characters he’s produced on screen since Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense.  Its possible that they are even more natural than that.  The two give us a very real sense of their relationship and can deliver on dramatics and scares.  Even when the script feels too much forced to give us their feelings, both actors lessen that blow.

I don’t want to talk to much about the film without getting into spoilers.  It feels best to just say this is an easy recommend and let the film do the work.  I had seen the trailers, and those give you the idea of what the film is.  The movie does play through all that, but its a bit more than it seems.  Tensions, suspense, weirdness and jumps do come abound (One scene got me, even though I felt something coming).  Shyamalan has hopefully collected himself after a pretty subpar 11-year run following (or starting, your pick) with The Village.  Oh, and speaking of the found footage, I’d say this is one of the best.  Even if you for some reason are “against” the aesthetic, I think you could give this a shot.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Visit provides as great a picture it can, with the conceit that there ware some intentional glitches and stuff due to the found footage storytelling method at hand.  This one looks really good and lifelike.  Its sharp and clear with details seeping through tremendously.  There is a hair of smoothness in a couple points and a bit of murkiness to it (Nit picking) but it looks terrific.

Depth:  There are some great moments providing some really 3 dimensional work here.  A highlight is when the kids are crawling around under the house.  Characters have a good free spacing feel to them and move around cleanly.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  This looks to be naturally lit in a lot of areas, so details can be hidden, but on clothing and the like colored black they are still discernible. 

Color Reproduction:  Colors come out richly in a more natural looking fashion.  Reds and blues get many tints and variations, all of them holding strong in their appearance.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones have a bit of coldness to them.  Details are top of the line with wrinkles, dimples, make-up and such all looking window-like from most distances.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Video Service

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics:  Given that its a found footage film, you can can’t assume that the audio is going to be pristine throughout.  It’s going to have intention gaffes and the like for the experience factor.  This one is pretty cleanly done though, and is a track that brings plenty of jumps and scares with good precision.

Low Frequency Extension:  Bumps and knocks get a boost from the subwoofer, but that’s all its really asked to do for this film.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Oh yeah, plenty of thought going into this track, as the spooks are loaded up around the room in different channels.  The movements and character placements are all well prepared and delivered.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is good, clear and crisp when in its finest form.

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Extras 

The Visit comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Alternate Ending (HD, 2:25)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 8:34) 

The Making of The Visit (HD, 9:56) – Primarily a fluff piece on Shyamalan, but its a good one.  The, now humbled, director talks about massively scaling back and wanting to make a film with budgetary restrictions to challenge himself to become creative again and not sit on a comfortable big studio budget.

Becca’s Photos (HD, 1:13) – Looks to be stills taken by the Becca character while making her documentary.

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Summary 

The Visit dazzled me more than I thought it would going in.  I haven’t care about M. Night Shyamalan, like many of us, in a long time.  I don’t hate or despise the director, I just haven’t liked any of his films in a long time.  Here, he returns with a very fun horror film that shows him trimming fat and challenging himself once again.  The Blu-ray here looks and sounds terrific and includes some solid extras, but may leave fans wanting some more.  But, it is a fine release and worth picking up for a solid price.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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