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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

The Visit (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Her grandma “Nana” Doris (Deanna Dunagan) has the “deep darkies”, her grandpa “Pop-pop” John (Peter McRobbie) has incontinence, her mother holds a long­time grudge against her folks for having opposed her marriage to an older man who according to them had “an impatient eye”—he did run off after five years—, her thirteen-year-old brother Tyler Jamison (Ed Oxenbould) has a rapper name T–Diamond–Stylus, and she her­self, fifteen-year-old New Yorker Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge), has a camera. She is documenting her and her brother's one week visit to their estranged grand­parents in rural Pennsylvania, who'd contacted their mom on the Internet saying they wanted to “meet their grand­kids, speak to them.”

I heard a story out of the Iraq War where a Baghdad bridge got bombed, stranding a cow on the other side of the river from its herd. The cow didn't like being separated from the rest, so it took a running leap across the gap in the bridge. Didn't make it. Humans, too, are communal creatures, not really meant to be separated from their intimates by miles and years. Electronic screens can't really make up for lack of communal contact and involvement. After all, the cow could see its herd across the river. So Becca is trying to bridge the generation gap. She'll either succeed or end up in the river when some­thing completely beyond the pale occurs.


Becca has a well-developed vocabulary, especially with regards to movie terminology. She does research on the Inter­net. When she starts filming at her grand­parents', she says, with­out missing a beat, she'll take care of the mise-en-scène tomorrow. She looks up the medical description of her Nana's affliction, sun­downing. Her brother Tyler has the rap lingo down pat (“Rap is a form of poetry.”) He ends all his raps with the word “ho!” One of the funny scenes involves Tyler relating to his sister an experience of his in pee wee foot­ball. Becca not under­standing the terms tells him to, “Speak English.” Of course they're all speaking English, just different subsets of its vocabulary. But for all of Becca's medical under­standing, it's the rapper with his more visceral perceptions who first realized there's some­thing wrong with the old folks—more than the usual old people's troubles. Similarly, it would be the sacred dialect of the scriptures that first pegs spiritual matters. As George P. Marsh put it in an 1859 graduate lecture on the English Bible, (448–9)

the English Bible sustains, and always has sustained to the general English tongue, the position of a treatise upon a special know­ledge requiring, like any branch of science, a special nomen­clature and phrase­ology. The language of the law, for example, in both vocabu­lary and structure, differs widely from that of unpro­fes­sional life; the language of medicine, of meta­physics, of astronomy, of chemistry, of mechanical art, all these have their approp­riate idioms, very diverse from the speech which is the common heri­tage of all. Why, then, should theology, the highest of know­ledges, alone be required to file her tongue to the vulgar utterance, when every other human interest has its own approp­riate expression, which no man thinks of conforming to a standard that, because it is too common, can hardly be other than unclean?

I was talking to a visitor from Sweden who asked me to explain American baseball to him. Then he wanted to know about foot­ball. I told him it was so popular here I worry when the local team does well, that the fans will succumb to excessive pride. He told me they have a saying in Sweden, “Pride goes before a fall,” and he wondered if we Americans have something similar. I told him it came from the Bible and gave it to him verbatim. H.W. Fowler's dictionary discusses Misquotation.

when a quotation comes from such a source as … the Bible …, to give it wrongly at least requires excuse, & any great prevalence of such misquotation would prove us discredit­ably ignorant of our own literature. … that their accuracy is sure to be taken for granted unless occasional attempts like the present are made to draw attention to them.

[Prov. 16:18] Pride goeth before destruction, & an haughty spirit before a fall (not pride before a fall).

In “The Visit” we worry that Becca's pride, her overconfidence in her control of the surroundings, in managing the mise-en-scène, will lead to her destruction when she follows the request of her batty grandma: “Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?” But there is no danger of her falling from inside the enclosed space. Similarly, the haughtiness of her rapper brother T–Diamond–Stylus might cause us worry about a fall, in the sense that's always the worry, to drop the (diamond-stylus) needle on the record, but a diamond needle being the hardest natural substance known to man, we don't worry about its destruction. Having the quotation accurate in our minds helps us appreciate the biblical caution.

Perhaps the kids will be okay. Perhaps it's Nana's pride in packing a suitcase for the mother ship in her story that will lead to her destruction. Perhaps it's Pop-pop's haughti­ness at being a master of board games that will lead to his fall. Hey, God is no respecter of persons, He just gives us the Proverb as a caution.

This leads up to another biblical word often misquoted, this time by the printers. H.W. Fowler's dictionary also discusses shamefaced, -fast.

It is true that the second is the original is the original form, that -faced is due to a mistake, & that the notion attached to the word is necessarily affected in some slight degree by the change. But those who, in the flush of this discovery, would revert to -fast in ordinary use are rightly rewarded with the name of pedants; see Pride of Knowledge. To use shame­fast as an acknowledged archaism in verse is another matter.

Joshua Whatmough writes that, “Within the territory of a language, wide deviations of dialect may be found … Such deviations disturb communications, they do not completely disrupt it. And they are, in all known languages, past and present, a constant feature, like archaisms (e.g. in religious or legal terminology) …” (51, 28). The trans­lators of the archaic at times 1611 King James Bible used the word shame­fast­ness, but printers later sub­sti­tuted the alter­nate shame­faced­ness of the same meaning, which latter has now passed into our regular English vocabulary, e.g. “Mark looked shame-faced at Artie, then stood up, took a few steps, and sat back down” (Robinson 281), and, “I saw … the sorriest, most bedrag­gled and shame­faced coyote imaginable” (Horowitz 95). The original -fast having become archaic through disuse was reinstated in the 1873 Cambridge Para­graph Bible, and more recently in the 2005, 2011 New Cambridge Para­graph Bible. According to the Editor's Introduction:

older words or forms are reintroduced, … because at some point in the history of the text the trans­lators' word was changed to a similar, different word …. When Paul in the received text, wishes ‘ that women adorn them­­selves in modest apparel, with shame­faced­ness and sobriety’ (1Tim. 2:9), he appears to want them not only to be modest and sober, but also ashamed. This is not what the trans­lators meant. They used a word that might once have sounded the same as ‘shame­faced­ness’, ‘shame­fast­ness’. This is not so easily read as ’ashamed’: its authentic strangeness takes the reader to the right meaning, holding fast to modesty.

In this movie the two kids have their own psychological problems that could be addressed by this word pair. Becca is shame­faced when she couldn't look at her­self in the mirror while grooming herself. What she really needs to be is shame­fast, that is holding fast to her modesty even when her Nana who once “was a hippie” still exposes a little too much flesh at times. Tyler, in his pee wee foot­ball experience, was shame­fast, when he was a safety and let a big guy rush past him for a touch­down (“they call it freezing”) at the end of the game when all he need have done was delay the fellow. He should have been merely shame­faced, having an aw-shucks moment afterwards, but he still should have stopped the guy, not just stood there. He's on the right track to a proper shame­faced­ness when he substitutes pop stars' names in place of cuss words in his raps (e.g. Shakira!)

Production Values

This 2015 movie “” was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn. Olivia DeJonge gives an effective performance as a fifteen-year-old. The performance of Deanna Dunagan as the grand­mother is the best of the lot. She switches smoothly between sweet old lady and demented witch. Brilliant young actor Ed Oxenbould has an acting ability that belies his youth. Peter McRobbie gives a quite accept­able performance as an old yahoo. Kathryn Hahn does an adequate single mom.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language, though the latter gets corrected internally. The cinema­tography is almost too good for the found-footage milieu, and the editing looks professional. It's the casting in the movie within the movie that's the worst one could ever imagine. There is no script, of course, and everyone Becca points the camera at, from the conductor on the train to visiting Dr. Sam (Patch Darragh), hams it up from past stage experience, and they are good. The mom's boy­friend is a real performer in his hairy chest contest they capture via Skype. But Becca turns off the camera before they hardly get started. She just doesn't know good acting when she sees it. But when the two kids them­selves decide to act like children playing so the old folks won't suspect they're on to them, why, they're the worst child actors one could ever imagine. But this is all forgiv­able, perhaps even intentional, as it adds to the humor and suspense. The scenery is authentic Pennsylvania—I'm from there. The isolated farm house looks pretty creepy, including forbidden base­ment, witching hour, and a peculiar lack of personal mementos like pictures of its occupants. The porch swing where the mom used to sit and wait for people to come by is nowadays unoccupied; people are either out walking or online.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The audience kept laughing and more so the creepier the situation on screen became. I guess the visit wasn't turning out to meet any­one's expectations and while it was hardly a laughing matter, it did perhaps provide an opportunity for us to laugh at ourselves for our failure to really know our neighbors, our penchant to substitute screen time for face time, and the degeneration of modern Bibles that mess up the formulae. I liked it. It's why I go to the movies.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall product rating: Four stars and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769, 1873, 2015. Software, print.

The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. King James Version, as edited by David Norton. Cambridge, UK: © Cambridge University Press 2005, 2011. Pub. 2005, rev. 2011. Print.

Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. USA. Oxford UP. 1946. Print.

Horowitz, Seth S., Ph.D. The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012. Print.

Marsh, George P. “Formation of our English sacred dialect.”
       Lectures on the English Language. London: John Murray, 1863. Print.
       ——available to read or download at www.bibles.n7nz.org.

Robinson, Frank M. Waiting. New York: Tom Doherty Assoc., 1999. Print.

Whatmough, Joshua. Language A Modern Synthesis. New York: Mentor Books, 1957. Print.