The name Shymalan is not one that garners the best buzz in the movie world these days. While it is true that M.Night Shymalan has made some hit over the years, the director has fallen from his mantle due to one disastrous film after another. Yet even with a bad track record, M.Night continues to bring new films to the silver screen. Shymalan's latest film takes the director back to the realm of horror with the found footage thriller: The Visit. Like Shymalan's previous film, The Visit shrouded itself in mystery as the trailer would give viewers an eerie scenario of children visiting their grandparents. However could The Visit get Shymalan out of this rut or is this suspenseful fall film just a trip that no one wants to remember?
The Visit centers on Rebecca and Tyler (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who are making a documentary for their mother (Kathryn Hahn). The two siblings decide to visit their grandparents (Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan) and record the events to give their mother some peace and closure with her parents. However as soon as the trip begin, Rebecca and Tyler begin to notice strange things dealing with their grandparents. From the grandmother's wild spasms in the night to the grandfather hiding things in the shed, the two siblings become very suspicious. What comes after next is tragedy that Rebecca and Tyler will not soon forget.
When it came to sticking to its concepts, The Visit's plot managed to hold true. However when it came to being intriguing, this story did not leave much to the imagination. The story to The Visit was fairly generic as it played out like most tales in this genre. The pacing to the story did not help the film either. From the start of the kid's trip it was plainly obvious that something was up with the grandparents. While this plot point may not have hurt the movie, the pacing did very little to make the film's mystery worthwhile. Like most Shymalan films, The Visit does feature a twist. While it was not a bad one for the movie, the reveal was underwhelming which was due to the story's direction.
What also did not benefit this horror flick was the characters to The Visit. While the actors did fine job in their performances, the characters themselves ranged from being cliched to just frustrating. Rebecca and Tyler had their moments, but both siblings were be hard to support due to their annoying antics; especially Tyler. When it came to the matter of development, the children were also lacking in this area. While some progressions managed to help the kids' characters, there were moments that either came out of nowhere or did nothing to evolve the two leads. Then there were the grandparents. Both Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan did well but these two characters were anything but creepy. If the film was trying to make the elderly couple into eerie characters, then it did a poor job as they came off comical; and not in a good way. Kathryn Hahn was a decent supporting character, but she did not have a major impact on the overall presentation.
The Visit is indeed a found footage film; but if you were hoping that the movie would something new for the genre, then you might be disappointed. Aside from a few moments and shots, the found footage element did nothing to make The Visit stand out from other films in the genre. When it came to film's scares, The Visit could be startling; but unfortunately this area was lacking in any long lasting suspense. Where the horror suffered was from the film's reliance on jump scares. While these moments could startled, that was about all they could do. Along with the jump scares, the reason why The Visit's horror element did not work was due to the film's tone. The atmosphere to this film was beyond inconsistent. Not only was this film aiming to be scary, but it was also trying to be funny. The atmosphere that the film was going for did not fit the concept of a horror comedy. Instead this attempt only made the scary scenes hard to take seriously, and the movie's sense of humor came off as distracting. When it came down to it, the issue here lied the film's direction as it was all over the place.
I will say this: The Visit was not the worst film from M.Night Shymalan; but it certainly does not help the director either. While it does have its good moments, this horror was too inconsistent in areas such as storytelling, characters and directing. The movie had all the makings of being entertaining and even scary time at the movies, but in the end: The Visit was just unwelcoming.