Quick Hit: Shyamalan begins his return to form with this small movie about a pair of children that find themselves at their grandparents as things go really, really wrong.
After watching Split, I heard a lot of people talking about The Visit. It was natural for us to seek it out then. I started to sweat, because Split was really good, and I was worried. And it’s natural, because The Visit is definitely not as good as that film. However… it’s not as bad as it sounds.
For one, the premise is good. Old people are inherently scary to most people. I could go into the psychology that is involved in this fear, whether it’s the fear of aging themselves, or the fear of death, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fact that they are indeed scary, on some level. That’s what makes the movie work the majority of the time – the behavior of the grandparents is just odd enough to be suspenseful, but is easily explained away with age. That’s because, on a certain level, a lot of people dismiss the misunderstandings of youth and old age.
The acting throughout the film isn’t academy award winning, but it’s more than solid throughout. This particularly comes through in the grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) really sell the ability to pass from loving to ridiculously off the wall within a moment. It’s here that Shyamalan starts to revert to some older tropes. It’s not a direct shout out, but you can see the similar themes. Shyamalan has always had an obsession with water, as well as with tiny creatures (and another theme that pops up in Split, which I won’t reveal as it starts to give away the some things. Obviously there is a twist, but it’s a delicious subversion from what you expect once they start talking. And it’s awfully simple, as the twists normally are.
There’s also the camerawork, which is superb. Normally, perfectly edited and shot found footage films annoy me to no end (see Blair Witch Project). However, the saving grace here is the fact that Shymalan gives a reason for it by allowing it to grow from a character. Becca’s character wants to be a direct, and consistently throws around terms about filmmaking. It’s a bit excessive, but as I said, it gets the point across.
The part that got old for me was the younger brother, Tyler. Though the acting was decent, I just wasn’t a big fan of the character. There were some motivations that didn’t seem like they were fleshed out entirely (for instance, the boy’s OCD manifestation, which comes and goes as he wishes). I also didn’t love his rapping. It’s funny once, maybe twice, but the continuance of it throughout the film grows into a major bore.
Overall, The Visit is a capable horror film that only gets a few notes incorrect. I’m going to give it a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"