I was fully prepared to be disappointed in this film. I walked in thinking it was going to be another terrible M. Night Shyamalan film. Boy was I wrong. This movie was actually scary, and surprisingly funny. Here’s my screening review.
Some spoilers will be warned later on.
The film is about two siblings who decide to visit their grandparents, whom they’ve never met. Before the kids were born their mother had a falling out with them and hasn’t so much as spoken to them in 15 years. The eldest child, Becca, decides to make a documentary about her trip with them and really wants to patch things up. Their grandparents seem normal at first but they soon see odd behavior. Nana has sundowners, a form of dementia, and they see her do some crazy things at night. Pop-Pop isn’t any better. He gets confused about having to go to a costume party and seems to be keeping a secret within a shed on the property. All things that are brushed off as them being old.
Becca is an overly serious filmmaker, or at least trying to be. Her pretentious attitude is for the most part entertaining and makes for great interview moments with the grandparents. Her brother Tyler is like any younger brother – annoying. He wants to be a rapper which is as hilarious as it sounds. He stole the show. The jokes made were exactly like kids his age. It never felt out of place and a lot of the punchlines were met with applause from the audience.
Honestly this film suffered from bad marketing. The first trailer I saw was one scene where Nana asks Becca to get into the oven. And that is it. I think all the trailers made the film seem cheesy and that the twist would be a let down.
There were quite a few times you were watching through your fingers and a lot of scares were scream-inducing. My only complaint would be the filming at times. I enjoyed the element of the daughter trying to make a documentary. However, sometimes it was a little dizzying. There is a scene where the kids find their mothers old hide-and-seek spot, which is a crawl space under the house. The scene itself is scary but the kids are trying to crawl out and the camera is just shaking uncontrollably.
For those who want to know the twist…
The kids are super aware towards the end that their grandparents are not just suffering from “old people problems”. They review footage of their hidden camera and see Nana holding a knife at their door the night before. They call their mom on Skype and explain everything, begging her to get them out of there. Their mom is resistant and asks where the grandparents are. The kids point the laptop out the window and towards the grandparents standing outside. To their horror she says, “those aren’t your grandparents”.
Things start to make sense, slowly but surely.
On two separate occasions, while the grandparents were out for a walk, coworkers of theirs showed up to the house. The visitors both expressed concern over the grandparents missing their volunteer day the week before and wanted to make sure everything was okay. One woman returns later on in the day and the kids see her and the grandparents arguing through the window. They never actually see her leave. Later on, once they know it’s not their grandparents, they try to run out of the house, only to find her hanging in the backyard.
They were also told not to go in the basement because of mold, but Becca knows something is up and goes to find her real grandparents. She believes they’re locked in the basement. To her horror she finds their bodies and a jumpsuit that also confirms the hospital they volunteered at was a psychiatric facility.
The real Nana and Pop-Pop told the two patients all about their upcoming visit and how excited they were to have a relationship with their grandkids. Fake Nana had killed her two children by drowning them and I suppose this was her way of bringing them back.
It was easy to think they were possessed or it was going to be some kind of supernatural twist. Fake Nana tells a story about beings from another planet and that they go into pond and sleep. At first you think maybe the twist is aliens. But it proved to be a story about her children whom she probably believes to not have died when she drowned them, but fell asleep.
The kids do end up prevailing. They kill fake Nana and Pop-Pop and all is well again.