I have to say that to begin with, I am not the biggest fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s work. There are very few that I watch and subsequently say, “That was a good movie!” Those few may be The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, not because I really thought it was technically good, but because I enjoyed it. After that, everything I’ve seen has just been indicative of a downhill spiral. The Village? Lady in the Water? The Happening? Should we even speak of The Last Airbender?? Shyamalan is hit-and-miss, but mostly miss.
So, knowing what I was likely getting into, I lowered my expectations. We quickly meet Becca and Tyler, who are 15 and 13 but speak as if they are actually 40 year old intellectuals. I typically don’t find that too distracting… after all, I am a person who has watched all of Dawson’s Creek at least 3 times over. I can usually set that aside, but it was pretty over the top. Asked what rap is, Becca states, and this is a direct quote: “It’s a form of modern poetry… if you give him a topic, he’ll extemporaneously rhyme on the subject. His stage nom de plume is ‘T-Diamond Stylus.'” Like, are you kidding me? What 30-year-old, let alone a 15-year-old, drops extemporaneously in casual conversation? One can be expected to suspend their disbelief, but not that far over the line. Nope, no way, Shyamalan.
Anyways, these 2 kids are going to meet their estranged grandparents for the first time, sans chaperone. Becca is an aspiring film-maker and thus, we now have a premise for a decently interesting found-footage film. Obviously they get there and something just isn’t quite… right with their new Nana and “Pop-Pop” (yeah… yeah.) At first, they’re perfectly pleasant and normal and kind, but weird things start to happen and things start to go awry before the trademark Shyamalan TWIST occurs and everything slides rapidly into… no.
It could have been a really good film. We were on a really good track with the premise and plot of the film, we really were. But so many things don’t add up, the kids have so many opportunities, and I’m sorry, they’re up against two absolutely ancient old people – you could take ’em! The child actors (Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge) are wonderful, truly, but it would have been a lot more natural and believable had they spoken like the age group they’re in.
It wasn’t an awful movie, but I wouldn’t give it what it has on Rotten Tomatoes (64%)… maybe a 45% at best. I’m not entirely sure if the comedic effects elicited at times were intentional or not, but they were there, and for the most part, they worked! But on the flip side of the coin, this movie wasn’t scary and it wasn’t all that thrilling either. There’s a jump scare now and then, but that’s about it. So I mean, if you’re down for a movie about pretentious children, a “twist” you can see coming from miles away, and being overcome with frustration at the stupidity of characters that are coming off way more intelligent than anyone I’ve ever met… this is your jam! Go forth!