I’m very disappointed by this one. I knew it was one of the most famous found-footage movies in recent years (even if fame is hardly ever a good quality for found-footage), but I never got to see it. I didn’t even know it was directed by Shyamalan. I’ve found out that just now, at the end of the movie. And let’s say that I kinda understand better now all the negative things about the movie… Shyamalan has carried in TOO MANY non-found-footage elements.
It was good at the beginning and for a large part of the movie. I’m not saying it was a masterpiece, but still enjoyable. The filming reasons made sense. Becca (the girl) is making a documentary of her and her brother visiting their grandparents for the very first time. We have enough elements to feel interested in what is going to happen and it all goes on pretty reasonably. The acting though is not so perfect… The grandparents are really good in what they do, while the kids are not at the same level at all. And many of the dialogues feel forced. Don’t misunderstand me though. The acting is still good but it could have been better considering that one of the strong points of found footage is the realism, so that one can feel the movie immersive.
Let’s get now to the [SPOILER] part.
I did appreciate the plot twist of the grandparents NOT being the real grandparents. Probably because I didn’t know who the director was. If I knew it, I would have probably expected it. Anyway, it was still a good choice. What I didn’t like at all were all the little details that COUNT a lot in a found footage. There are some really annoying jumpscares. And I’m a fan of jumpscares. I don’t like them when they’re unnecessary. Let me explain it. If I have a situation A of absolute tranquillity and an event B suddenly occurs, the jumpscare is justified. Or if I have a situation A of raising tension and an event B breaks the tension with a climax, that’s a really good jumpscare. Here instead we have just cinema-jumpscares, done just for the easy scares of the audience in cinema theatres. One when we have the grandma running in a crazy way in the house. We do expect it because we’ve already heard it. But the jumpscare occurs because the volume turns up suddenly (and unrealistically). Then we have the grandma-faces-the-camera jumpscare. This is the only one that feels ok. And finally we have the jumpscares of grandma-in-bedroom-with-Becca. Those are the most annoying ones. The director uses the (annoying) trick of the thunder of a storm outside that occurs CASUALLY when the girl points the camera at the grandma. Oh what a coincidence! So many times! The realism for sure is killed here. Not to mention that no one knows why Becca decides to turn the camera alternately at grandma and at NOTHING. Just so that the jumpscare can exist? Totally absurd… If I have a danger in front of me, enlightened with camera lights, I would NEVER turn somewhere else for no reason… No one would, I guess!
Then we have the camera switches. With that, I mean that the point of view switches alternately from one camera to another, one handled by the boy, the other handled by the girl. Why that? I can understand all the editing BEFORE the ‘action’ part. Because there it could be Becca editing with her computer. But then? Was it Becca editing her video after all they passed through?? She had no problem at all viewing again those scenes and editing even the audio(’cause we can see some audios overlapping other video parts)? I mean, I’m ok with the fact that everyone has its own way to react to things. But seeing this and seeing Becca pointing at herself while running away from the house and imagining her putting some stupid music as the soundtrack of their escape is just SILLY. Then I have to picture Becca also putting music to the last interview with her mom as if she was a cold blooded director. Or picturing Becca adding that stupid rap part at the end! Why was Tyler doing that?? You can tell me whatever you want. Ok, there could be the explanation that it’s their way to react to this. Ok, it can be “possible”. But then I’d have to think that the kids are the real crazy people in the movie… ‘Cause it’s an absurd reaction. It would have been SO much better with JUST one camera for the ‘action’ scene. No absurd rap part and no absurd soundtrack music… What was it, a Disney movie? I felt that the director was trying to make the movie “cool” and “funny” there. But, as I like to say and repeat, in found footages LESS is BETTER. So much better…The smart choice would have been cutting the movie at the police part.
If that was really an edited documentary, was it perfectly ok for Becca to show her grandma’s dead and smashed corpse? Oh, what a choice! Not to mention that the two mentally ill old guys would not have deserved such a documentary to come out, and it wouldn’t be so easy to show such a documentary with no legal repercussions(making the idea itself absurd). The only reasonable way to present the whole footage was to make it a police proof video.
This is why the movie deserves nothing more than a 5.0. Because it goes TOO MUCH out of the found footage canons. It would have been a 7.0 if it was directed in a non-found-footage style.