The Visit comes to us from a director and a production company that both manage to cause very divisive opinions within, not just the horror community, but the film community. M. Night Shyamalan has never been able to recreate the lightening in a bottle that was The Sixth Sense and some view Blumhouse as a sweatshop of horror films. Fittingly, people seem to be either really excited to see The Visit or they’re already rolling their eyes at the twist ending that we have come to expect from Shyamalan. Despite still feeling the sting of Wayward Pines and having mixed emotions about the Blumhouse business model, I went into The Visit as neutral as is possible for a human being and I am happy to report that I had a nice time. Mostly.
The movie comes to us in the form of one of our main characters making a documentary about going to visit her grandparents for the first time. After not speaking to one another for fifteen years, Nana and Pop Pop have reached out to their estranged daughter, played by the always lovely Kathryn Hahn, and requested to meet their grandchildren. Becca and Tyler are two exceptionally grounded children for coming from a broken home. After being left by their father, Tyler has developed a germ phobia and Becca will not look at herself unless it’s via the camera, otherwise, these two kids are pretty awesome. Olivia DeJonge plays Becca with an incredible mix of maturity and teenage heartache while Ed Oxenbould plays Tyler with a wonderful amount of humorous enthusiasm. Seriously, I wish all children behaved like these two. A budding filmmaker, Becca is recording all of the events and, apparently, any time people are confronted with a camera they talk about how they used to be an actor and start spouting off lines. Personally, I would run away, but I’m not an actor. I can only assume that this is a dig at how the average person responds when meeting Mr. Shyamalan. Perhaps he did this instead of his normal cameo because his glorious head of hair never graces the screen.
The look and feel of the film are spot on and you easily settle into this idyllic week of home baked goods and games of hide and seek. Sure, you shouldn’t leave the bedroom after 9:30, go into the shed or into the basement, but you get cookies! If you’ve seen the trailer, then you get the gist of the film and if you know anything about Shyamalan, then you will be waiting for the inevitable twist. If you’re paying any attention at all, you will know exactly what is going on by the 30 minute mark, but that still doesn’t take away from the overall experience.
Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie are on their A-games as Nana and Pop Pop and watching their true selves slowly come out is eerily delightful. Some have complained that the humor is too “jokey”, but I respectfully disagree. Most of the humor comes from the normal interactions that occur between two different generations. The jump scares are plentiful, but,mostly, non annoying. In fact, one of them is very effective. If you spend too much time thinking over all of the minute details, you will find a large amount of holes in the plausibility, so just don’t do that. Remember how fun it was to go to the cinema as a child? Channel that energy, go see The Visit and have a fun time.