Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Visit offers redemption laced with fear.

Gladys West from Elite Animation Academy gave me tickets to see a free test screening of M. Night Shamalan's "The Visit" at Cinemark Movie Theater in Artegon Marketplace 5150 International Drive Orlando FL. The free ticket warned that attendees should arrive early since the screening was on a first come basis. I decided to arrive early and sketch the line as it formed. 20 people were already in line. I asked the couple who were last in line, if I could squeeze in behind them after I finished my sketch.

People at the front of the line talked about the latest roll playing game. It made me wonder if there was a Comic Con in town. One guy in line sort of looked like Jesus, and his friends joked that he should audition for the roll of Jesus at Holy Land. Since he is an atheist, he wasn't the right man for the job.  A security officer from Burbank California looked over my shoulder to check out the sketch. Her job was to make sure everyone turned off their cell phones before the movie started.

With the sketch done, I got back in line. The guys behind me were talking about an incident of road rage on an I-4 off ramp. The guy said that if his family wasn't in the car then he would have killed the other driver. Jesus! I assume that every other driver on the road is as impatient as this guy. Even so you can't escape everyone's rage. The line started to move and Terry, my wife hadn't arrived yet. I had to hope that she would be able to force her way in without a ticket. I put my art supplies in the seat next to me to hold her seat, but as the theater grew more crowded, I got uncomfortable turning people away. Luckily the theater didn't fill up completely.

"The Visit" wasn't what I expected. Everyone in the theater was braced for a scare. The film was set up like a documentary shot by a young brother and sister. Their mom had left her parents home twenty years earlier and never spoke to her parents again. Her parents looked her up on the Internet and they wanted to meet their grand children. The two children were sent off on their own by train to visit their grand parents whom they had never met in an isolated farm house upstate. The grand parents turn out to be more than a little strange, if not insane. What gives the film heart is that the young daughter is shooting a documentary in the hopes of finding an elixir for her mother's guilt. Rather than horror, most scenes were laced with laugh out loud humor. As scenes grew darker and more sinister, laughter offered relief. Like in the "Sixth Sense" there was one unexpected twist that truly had the audience on the edge of their seats. The grandpa turned out to be scarier than Freddy Kruger and the grandma was as creepy as a Japanese ghost. Sun downers was the clinical explanation but she went way beyond that diagnosis. Terry grabbed my sleeve every time the tension built.

The Visit turned out to be a film with true heart. I give the film eight Yatzys. You really need to see the film to believe it. The fact that many people in the test audience had waited hours to get in the theater, meant that we had a very lively audience. The film is scheduled to open nation wide on September 11th.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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