M. Night Shyamalan has given us some truly remarkable films with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable but completely fell off track with disasters such as The Lady In The Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender. Shyamalan has now returned to low budget film making with The Visit, a story in which two young kids go and visit their estranged grandparents for the first time, the only rule; don't leave your room after 9:30pm.
Upon arrival at their grandparents home, young Becca and Tyler are having a great time. Becca is an aspiring film maker and is documenting the entire trip; hence the found footage style. And Tyler is an aspiring rapper and will often use the camera as a way to showcase his talent. After a while, Grandma and Granddad or Nana and Pop Pop as they're called in the film start acting very strange, especially after 9:30pm in which Nana will patrol the house nude scratching at walls, vomiting and crawling round on all fours. This is where The Visit's truly strange brand of humor comes into play, this is an abundantly funny film, not only with the characters during the day, but the imagery used at night time.
The Visit is Shyamalan's finest film in a very long time and whilst it's nothing compared to the likes of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable or even Signs, it's a definite return to form for the fallen director.
Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge play the kids in the movie and they both do a fine job with Oxenbould handling a lot of the more humorous dialogue and DeJonge playing the more mature out of the two. But the real stars of the film are Deanna Dunagan (House Of Cards) and Peter McRobbie (Daredevil) who play Nana and Pop Pop. There's something definitely strange about them when we first meet them but they keep blaming it on old age. The characters of Nana and Pop Pop are ones that you won't want me to spoil because they're the most surprising part of the film. Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers) plays the mother of the two kids and does a very good job in the role as well.
The Visit is tonally quite strange, I was never quite sure whether Shyamalan was going for scares or for laughs. There aren't really any jump scares or loud sound effects, Shyamalan instead opts to use some truly distressing imagery when it comes to Nana patrolling the house at night, and whilst it may not be necessarily quite scary in the theater, it has the potential to really get under your skin. The Visit is certainly an experience, it's a lot of fun and it's obvious to see Shyamalan just wants to entertain, something that he's struggled to do with his more recent films.
One aspect of the film that I adored was the complete lack of non-diegetic sound. No music will play unless it's being played within the story which means there's not an awful lot of music, which in turn actually makes the film a bit more tense. Horror films sometimes rely on audio cues for their scares, ramping up the music to a big loud bang is a lazy way to execute horror.
In true Shyamalan fashion, there is a twist, one that you'll probably be able to spot from a mile away. The twist is a lot more obvious than I was expecting, which is probably why I didn't pick up on it until the reveal. Either way, the twist is exciting, fun and will probably make a second viewing even more entertaining.
What disappointed me about The Visit is that it really isn't a scary film which I think is certainly going to leave many disappointed. If you go into The Visit expecting an Insidious type experience than you're going to be let down because that was not Shyamalan's intention for the film.
The Visit is a definite return to form for M. Night who attempts to purely entertain his audience with some laughs, some creepy imagery and an overall sense of fun and adventure. I recommend seeing The Visit, but if you don't like the film, I more than understand.
Have you seen The Visit? If so, what did you think about it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97