Review by Dustin Heller
(Sept. 11, 2015) — M. Night Shyamalan is back with his new horror film, The Visit. If you’re not familiar with Shyamalan, he’s the writer and director of some pretty great films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and The Village. As good as some of his early work was, he has gone on a bit of a cold spell lately with The Last Airbender and After Earth. He looks to get back on track with his latest film which reportedly carried a microscopic budget of only $5 million. The film stars Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Peter McRobbie, Deanna Dunagan and Kathryn Hahn.
Teenagers Becca (DeJonge) and Tyler (Oxenbould) have never met their grandparents due a fight their mother (Hahn) had with them 15 years earlier. Upon reaching out to them, the children agree to travel to their remote country home and spend a week with them. Once they arrive, some strange and mysterious things start happening around them and Becca and Tyler learn that their grandparents have some health and mental issues. They try to ignore them as much as they can, but as things get even more strange and creepy, they are forced to dig deep for some family secrets that may be haunting them.
Shyamalan has gone back to his creepy storytelling roots with The Visit, after his last couple of big budget films flopped with audiences and critics alike. Unlike Shyamalan’s earlier films, The Visit plays more like a true horror film instead of a suspense thriller. There is definitely some mystery around what is actually going on and due to the filmmakers past you’re expecting a surprise twist at every turn. The movie is filled with the typical horror movie clichés and a bunch of jump scares.
Not unlike almost all horror films, the protagonists, Becca and Tyler in this case, make some extremely stupid decisions that just wouldn’t happen in real life. The entire film is shot as if the two kids are creating a documentary for their mother. The concept works as a novelty, but the shaky camera is a little nauseating at times. As for the acting, Ed Oxenbould as Tyler didn’t have much to work with, but his performance was downright awkward. It just felt like he was completely miscast.
Another thing that felt completely out of place was the comedy. There a number of moments that aren’t funny by any stretch, but are set up for the audience to laugh. This didn’t work for me at all. Other than that, it’s pretty standard horror movie fare with a decent twist at the end, but even with a run time of only an hour and a half it still felt too long. I’m not sure that The Visit will get Shyamalan back to must-see director status, but it is a step in the right direction. Horror fans will probably eat this up and casual movie fans will probably be bored.
The Visit opens in theaters on Friday, September 11