My sweet boyfriend has gotten me more into horror, so when I was at the library and saw an M. Nigh Shyamalan movie about possessed grandparents I was like, “Oh what a fun thing for us!”
Now, a couple of red flags right off the bat: never hearing of an M. Night Shyamalan movie is a very bad signs (pun intended!!!!!!!). When he hits, he hits big but OOf when he misses. (The Happening???? The one with the devil in the elevator???). Also, no one I’ve ever heard of is in it (except Kathryn Hahn for a few minutes but she’s basically on a Sandals cruise the whole movie). Big name director and no name actors usually means that that script is terrible and I mean, TERRIBLE.
The premise of the movie is that the mom (Kathryn Hahn) hasn’t spoken to her parents in like 15 years because of an incident that happened when she decided to elope/move in with her older boyfriend that she won’t talk to her kids about. She won’t tell them exactly what happened, just that she hasn’t spoken to them since, and that it was terrible.
Since that time the older man and her had two kids (he also left her, but we’ll get to that later!). A boy, Tyler, and his older sister Becca. Lemme say a couple of things right here about these kids. Number one: the writing was atrocious. The definition of atrocious is, “of a very poor quality; extremely bad or unpleasant” and boy does it fit in here.
Tyler is a nine year old white rapper who is always saying PAINFULLY outdated/lame/trying too hard “slang” like calling girls hoes, or saying “shiznit” or something. There are MANY different times in the movie where he expresses his feelings about a situation/event by RAPPING INTO THE CAMERA for more than a minute. MORE THAN A MINUTE. It is TERRIBLE. He has no flow or an understanding of sounds that rhyme. Often he wears things like a baseball hat that says “I heart haters” or a ripped denim vest, or graphic socks or something. It is terrible and so is he. I say he is too because I can have a soft spot for little white kids who haven’t learned about the world yet and are very cringe inducing. That’s alright. I cut my own bangs and was very self-righteous about D.A.R.E., we’ve all been there. But this kid, (Ed Oxenbould) is also one of those child actors who’s too rehearsed in his emotions so he just seems like a tiny serial killer. There is a very fine line with child actors between extremely talented and tiny murderer. How do you know how to be smarmy already?? Can you even read? I really hated him. He also was supposed to have this thing with germs but most of it got edited out so it seemed like they just put it in one scene to make a point later. He also had this gross “poignant” monologue about freezing up at his football game and not tackling someone who needed to be tackled. His dad wasn’t mad at him for that and that’s why he’s not mad at his dad now that he abandoned their family (yikes Tyler!) and it was truly painful to watch.
Becca is older and “into filmmaking” that’s why she’s making this documentary (oh yeah the whole thing is supposed to be found footage kind of-so it has that against it as well-like everything we see the camera has to be explained why it was put there, or someone chooses to bring a camera with them while they do a task that it makes no sense for them to, etc). Becca is supposed to be really smart and the way we know that is she talks like a smug adult for the entire film and references things she wasn’t alive for and uses words I studied for the SAT. It. is. so. annoying. when. writers. try. to. make. kids. sound. really. smart. by. just. having. them. say. big. words. UGHHH. I don’t think any of the writers of this movie have ever met a kid. Becca is constantly having these little sardonic soliloquies and acting world weary and generally being terrible.
Anyway, so after many years of not speaking, the grandparents write their daughter and say they want to meet their grandchildren by hosting them for a week at their house. The mom doesn’t want them to go, the kids want to go, so they end up going. After a few raps on the train (in the presence of a very patient black attendant) they arrive in somewhere that is indistinguishable from anywhere in Connecticut (the land of grandparents).
The kids get settled in and weird stuff starts happening, mostly at night. The grandma is scratching at the wall naked, or running around naked, or hitting herself, or spacing out, etc. It is explained by some weird disease that only happens at night and the grandpa suggests, “it might be easier if you just stay in your room after 9:30.” So, they do but over the course of the week weird stuff keeps happening in increasing frequency and also during the day too. Some creepy highlights: the grandma keeps asking Becca to clean the inside of the oven (“really get all the way in there! Get the back!”) that allows for some good tension. The grandpa tells them to stay out of the shed so of course Tyler goes in there and finds a lot of the grandpas’ soiled diapers (it’s really funny how much of the weird stuff in the beginning of the week the kids chalk up to them just being old), the grandma has a really intense game of hide and seek under the house where it seems like she’s trying to eat them?
So, this stuff keeps happening and the day the mom comes back from her cruise with Miguel (she deserves this!!) the kids are like you need to come get us, Nana and Pop-pop (white people) are being weird. Then they show them just staring blankly at the barn outside on Skype. The mom kind of freaks out and is like, “you’ve been with them all week? They aren’t your grandparents.” Also, throughout the week people have been stopping by the house to check on them because they keep missing obligations they have, all relating to this hospital, which we find out later is a mental hospital. Basically two people from the mental hospital escaped, killed the grandparents and were pretending to be them to have this week with the kids. The man wanted his wife to feel like a grandmother again because she murdered her kids and drowned them in the lake.
There’s this whole other plotline about their psychosis that gets revealed through “stories” Becca encourages her grandmother to tell for the documentary, but basically they believe in aliens and that the aliens spit into the water which fills in with drugs that make people sleep for a long time and they keep them at the bottom of the lake asleep until they can bring them back to their planet (which had an INSANE name, Synmorphia maybe?).
They start a game of Yahtzee (which is hilarious. This movie had some moments of sheer comical joy but I don’t think ANY of them were on purpose) but then halfway through Becca excuses herself to go look for her murdered grandparents in the basement. She finds them, then the fake grandparents try to kill them. Becca stabs her “grandma” to death with a shard of broken mirror and Tyler tackles his fake grandpa to death (meaningful because he couldn’t do it in the football game! And his dad!) but not before getting a dirty diaper shoved in his face, which was too much by any estimation of what is too much. The kids successfully kill both fake grandparents and the cops show up with the mom one second later.
Then later back at the house for the “final interview” (wouldn’t you just scrap the movie if you got kidnapped and had to murder your way out????) the mom FINALLY says what happened to make her not talk to them for 20+ years- the real grandmother got in her way when she was leaving and she hit her mom, then her dad hit her. Then they read this letter that Tyler intros by saying, “shouldn’t we say we found this in the house under some gasoline?” and Becca goes, “don’t spoon-feed the audience Tyler.” (Which, YOU JUST DID! When someone writes in a deprecating joke about something they also wrote and decided to do, UGH I hate it, I told you they were the worst). There’s also an alternate ending in the bonus features that’s EQUALLY as terrible and Miguel’s in this one. God, this whole movie was truly terrible in a specifically egregious way. I will say, I like the concept and if there had been completely different script with completely different actors, I think it could have been better. I also liked the title cards that announced how much time had passed. That was probably my favorite part of the movie.
One out of seven sleeping alien lake babies, would not masturbate again.