Horror films work best when they take something innocent and make it ghoulish and unsettling. The Nightmare on Elm Street ruined dreams. Jaws ruined swimming (in any body of water). The Ring ruined VHS tapes…like forever.
The Visit is about to ruin any future trip to see your grandparents.
Becca and Tyler are on their way to visit their estranged grandma and grandpa. Becca is a teenage aspiring documentarian and plans to record the entire trip, in hopes that she’ll be able to find out why her mom left home when she was younger and to see if there’s a way to reconnect the parents to their daughter. Things seem simple enough as the weeklong trip starts off. The kids are given free rein to wander about the large property. The only rule they are given is that they don’t leave their room after 9:30.
Obviously, kids don’t listen. What they begin to see, is that grandma isn’t quite right (understatement) come dusk. The reasons are seemingly explained by grandpa, of course. Yet, every evening, the incidents seem to be getting stranger.
This is the first movie in a long time that has been able to freely say it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It does somehow gel into the eerie territory laid out by The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village. It should come as no surprise that Shyamalan really needs a win. His career has dwindled to the point where no one expects much from his flicks. The found footage element seems beneath him to be honest. However, these movies are notoriously known for being made on the cheap. So, it’s almost guaranteed to make a profit.
The Visit relies on four characters to make it work. Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are almost unlikable to begin with. Early on, Tyler shows his freestyling rap skills more than a few times. I’m not ashamed to say that I wanted his character to die quickly. Somewhere along the way, I actually enjoyed his character and the humor he provided. I guess you could say I came around to the point where I didn’t wish for his grisly death.
Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie are only affectionately known as Nana and Pop Pop. They manage to seem trustworthy, all while hiding some sinister secrets at the same time.
It may surprise you to hear that The Visit isn’t a straight-forward horror flick. There are scares to be sure, mostly in the jump scare category. It ends up providing just as many laughs as it does moments of fear. Because we’re seeing the movie from the kids’ perspectives, we get their immediate responses from the weirdness that is taking place around them. That specifically is what makes it humorous. Also, without spoiling anything, there are a few moments that make you cringe. I wasn’t ever all that scared during The Visit, but I did have a permeating feeling of unease.
Much like any found footage movie, you will have to sit through a dragging first third of the movie until anything really happens. Though, once Nana starts acting funny, you’re almost guaranteed to be entertained.
Does The Visit mark the return of M. Night Shyamalan? I think it’s still too early to tell. But, it’s a step in the right direction. B