Title: The Visit (Fantasia 2015 review)

Also known as:

Year: 2015

Genre: Documentary

Language: English

Runtime: 84 min

Director: Michael Madsen

Writer: Michael Madsen

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3833746/

A documentary where government agencies are interviewed about alien contacts as if they have already happened.

Our thoughts:
There have been a number of documentaries around the subject of alien life and the possibilities of it existing. Michael Madsen's sort-of-documentary delivers an experimental take on the subject, in a what-if situation. In "The Visit", Madsen has gathered a number of interviewees with more or less knowledge in the subject of alien lifeforms and space, and they discuss an alien visit that has never happened as if it has happened. The intrigue of the documentary is right there in the summary - it throws out any fact against aliens, and puts the interviewed people in a position where they have accepted that aliens do exist, and that they have came to our planet.

"The Visit" is one of those films that will most likely attract a number of people through its synopsis, but once they are watching it will split the audience in two. One camp will see little of interest beyond the first 30 minutes and only appreciate the idea and its execution (it consists mostly of interviews and mood shots). Meanwhile the other camp will love this, because they have a genuine interest in its subject and what people "in the know" would say in such a situation. Personally, this ended up not being a movie aimed towards me, but I can't say much bad about what the movie does and how it does it.

The best thing about "The Visit" is simply what it is: a documentary of interviews that uses a what-if situation as facts. What follows is great for a while, but eventually I couldn't keep my interest. It was hard not to think that if the situation actually was real, these interviews would have been very different. That doesn't make me question the reasons or the point of the documentary, as it's still a unique spin on things that should do well with certain people. It just kinda becomes less and less intriguing as we go on, because we can't shake what we know. No matter how well these interviewees do in the scenario, it would honestly be easier as a viewer to get into a dramatized sci-fi mockumentary on the subject, than a series of interviews done this way. Perhaps this is due to my own lack of knowledge in the subject. Rest assured, though, that I did know what I was going into when I sat down to watch this. I did not in any way expect a schlockly, handheld sci-fi horror movie. I expected exactly what the movie was, but that ended up not being what I needed.

The inserts of nature and structures are somewhat appealing in a documentary otherwise focused on talking heads in interviews, but there are some scenes that try to show the simulated situation, and they simply don't work for its favour. It's scenes like people running away from the camera as it approaches (the camera acts as the alien visitor), and a man boarding the alien spaceship while documenting what he sees. These are done in a way that shows perhaps that the idea of the documentary is just a tad bit more pretentious than it should be to rightfully portray its ideas.

There is a place in the world for an experimental documentary like "The Visit", so I hold no grudge against it. It hasn't been done quite like this before, so despite my own dislikes of it I feel no reason to judge it too hard. It simply wasn't for me. I couldn't get into the interviews, and the simulations of the "events" were somewhere between silly and pretentious. This should be viewed by anyone with a vague interest in space and alien lifeforms, but go into it with open expectations and know that you might still not get into it.

Positive things:
- Interesting and unique idea.
- It will find its viewer, even though I wasn't the ideal one.

Negative things:
- It didn't take long before the interviews got tedious.
- The simulation scenes were hard to get into.

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2015

Reviewed by:


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