M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t had a great run in past few years. With recent disasters like The Last Airbender and After Earth adding to his wobbly repertoire he’s been in dire need of a comeback. He recently directed the pilot episode of new series Wayward Pines and I absolutely loved that series, the first episode stirred mystery and intrigue from start to finish proving Shyamalan still has the knack to craft a superb piece of work. Now in 2015, his first feature film in two years The Visit made its way onto the screens, surprising critics and cinema-goers as a decent piece of work, not his worst but still not quite up there with The Sixth Sense.
The Visit follows brother and sister Becca and Tyler who are on a trip to see their Grandparents for the first time, leaving their Mum anxious but optimistic for them to meet. All seems well upon arrival but as the days pass by weird behaviour from the Grandparents stirs suspicion and worry for the kids, leading them to thinking something may not be right with the family. Shot in the found footage documentary style, The visit starts off on solid foundation, with a strong reason for the film to be shot in this format as well as likeable characters and a believable story.
Kathryn Hahn is one of the most charming, funny and talented actresses working today and it's great to see her in a darker movie despite her role being rather upbeat. Her character has a lot of depth and a less than sweet family past and Hahn does a good job at expressing angst, care and optimism. Olivia DeJonge is marvellous as Becca, a young filmmaker hoping to make it big in the future. When I was a kid I was the same, always filming things, so I related to her character in a few ways and DeJonge has a lot of talent, most noticeably in the scene where she breaks down talking about her father and how she sees herself. Ed Oxenbould is arguably the best aspect about The Visit. He's hilarious as an aspiring rap artist and self confessed romantic, and at times this film can be very funny thanks to him. Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as the Grandparents are suitably creepy and weird, but don't shine as much as the other cast members.
The problem with The Visit is nothing much happens, and it can get seriously boring and very dull. There are next to no jump scares, the few that exist don't work. I don't remember feeling unsettled or scared at any time, the only scene that was effective sees Becca and Tyler play hide and seek underneath the house, and their Grandma chases them in a very inhumanly style. Apart from that, The Visit is mostly talking and very little excitement or involvement. It is a shame considering how good the characters are as well as the story and backgrounds, but M. Night Shyamalan fails to inject any style or actual horror elements, leaving the whole affair feeling empty and cold.