The Visit - Review

The Visit is an absolutely terrifying return to form for seasoned director M. Night Shyamalan, and taps into the primal fear of people not being who they seem. All of this combines to make an amazing thriller that also knows when to lighten the mood.

Performances

One trademark of M. Night films are great characters with great chemistry. Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson in Signs, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable, M. Night has a knack for relationships. And The Visit is no exception. The amazing chemistry between Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge make the scares feel real and authentic. Also, the completely unhinged performance from Deanna Dunagan as Nana elevates The Visit to a level that few other films can reach; the ability to have fun. Peter McRobbie also gives a believable performance as Pop Pop, acting as the anchor of reason for the first half, until things get a little crazy in the second.

Plot

The plot of The Visit may be a tired one, but it is given new excitement by the terrifying premise. There are twists and turns, horrific set pieces, and an excellent climax. I won't spoil too much, but I would wait until the credits roll to see one of the best parts of the film. The Visit is told from the perspective of the two children, who go to spend a week with their grandparents they have never met, in order to give their mother (Kathryn Hahn) a week with her boyfriend. The way the story is captured is through personal cameras carried by the two children, who want to film the whole trip as a form of therapy for their mother. Thankfully, this never feels like a "found footage" movie. Instead of blabbering over all the scares, the two children offer rich dialogue about how messed up their situation is. Ed Oxenbould even makes fun of his odd grandparents in the early scares of the movie. Most films like The Visit simply collapse under their own weight, and fall into a confused and boring mess. The Visit easily navigates around this by building tension, and then releasing it all. There was a final sequence that I felt could have been dropped, but it neither hurt nor helped the film.

Style

The Visit may not be the most stylish movie M. Night Shyamalan has ever made, but it still has its own unique mood. The famous plot twist from M. Night is still present, albeit in a toned down form. This is a great thing for The Visit, as it seems to be a return to the horror genre for M. Night. Perhaps in the future we will see more of his movies with crazier twists and styles, but this film is the perfect way to ease people back into the chilly hands of M. Night.

Summary

The Visit is a fantastic return to form for M. Night Shyamalan, as it brings the scares, tension, and relationships we expect from an M. Night film. Hopefully this is the start of something great for this visionary director.

Pros - Performances, premise, climax, humor

Cons - A few scenes could have been dropped