THE VISIT, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (THE SIXTH SENSE), is an entertaining thrill ride and one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. I am not kidding when I say I watched a good portion of it peeking between my fingers. Jump scares are one thing, but this movie is CREEPY! Old people + cackling + diapers + crawling around on the floor + night terrors + trying to grab you from under the bed = a giant NOPE from me. All that was missing were clowns and my nightmare would be complete. And that’s the fun of it!
I hate the typical obnoxious horror movie crowds who talk back to the screen and scream… but I fear I may have slightly become the very person I hate. I may or may not have screamed a few times despite my best attempts not to. And if you told me I hurled a few “nopes” at the screen too, I would believe you… but they were quiet nopes! I promise!
I know so many positive reviews of THE VISIT are going to say something to the effect of “M. Night Shyamalan is finally back!” However, I don’t think his previous movies, besides THE LAST AIRBENDER and AFTER EARTH, were as awful as people say. It seems to be “cool” to hate on Shyamalan’s work, but I actually enjoyed his thrillers after THE SIXTH SENSE. I still think of the lawnmower scene in THE HAPPENING at least once a day; it had a seriously disturbing effect on me… that and Mark Wahlberg’s awful performance. But hey, the movie wasn’t terrible.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot of THE VISIT because I want you to go into it knowing as little as possible. The story centers around tween siblings Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) as they travel to their estranged grandparents’ house for a visit. Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) have not seen their daughter (Kathryn Hahn) in fifteen years after a blowout fight led her to leave home. But all of these years later, the grandparents are finally taking steps to meet their grandchildren. Aspiring filmmaker (and hilariously pretentious) Becca uses this meeting as a backdrop for a documentary about meeting her grandparents, finding out more about her mother’s feud with them, and hopefully using it as a way to reconnect the family once and for all.
Of course, as you can tell from the trailer, this doesn’t go according to plan. Nana is already a little weird, but she gets even creepier when the sun goes down. Pop Pop tells the children to be in bed by 9:30 and not to come out of the room, but as the situation gets more heightened, the children realize a bedroom door isn’t going to keep them protected for long. Can they make it until the end of the week at grandma and grandpa’s house (or at least until their mother gets back from her cruise)?
The actors in this film are phenomenal, especially the Cookie Monster herself Deanna Dunagan, who is able to turn a seemingly sweet grandma into a source of many nightmares to come. The other standout is Ed Oxenbould who brings an enormous amount of levity into an otherwise terrifying film. His continuous, cringe-worthy rapping was funny enough, but what I especially loved is how Shyamalan made him the voice of the audience. Whereas Becca still had hope that her grandparents were just a tad senile, Tyler was the voice of reason and was not afraid to tell it like it is. And the scene of him pretending to play with a tennis ball saying, “This is how children play,” is one of my favorites in the film.
Shyamalan has a brilliant imagination, and in an era of remakes and sequels, it’s nice to see someone who wants to make a studio film with original ideas. THE VISIT is one of the best horror films in a long time and if you want to start getting in the Fall/Halloween spirit, definitely catch this one in theaters. Horror movies work better on the big screen anyway…well, :ahem: when you don’t have people screaming beside you.
My Review: B+