A single mother has not seen her parents since before her kids were born due to a falling out. After several years of silence, her parents finally reach out. They want their grandchildren to come visit for a week. The kids go to stay with the grandparents they have never met on a rural farm, and the granddaughter decides to make a documentary about their time together. While everything seems normal at first, the kids soon realize that something is very wrong with their grandparents.
M. Night Shyamalan is back. After a couple hits, followed by several misses, Shyamalan has finally done a film that I can genuinely say I enjoyed watching. I believe what made this film so successful is that he went back to the roots of filmmaking, and I mean he really did. Olivia DeJonge (The Sisterhood of Night) plays Becca, the granddaughter who is putting together the documentary about her grandparents. Shyamalan uses Becca to show the filmmaking basics, having her go through the various steps of putting a film together while also explaining different filmmaking terms. This method made this film more successful because of it’s simplicity. The film was also successful because it was downright creepy. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was very scary, with the exception of a few jump scares, but it definitely gave you the feeling of unease and even panic.
The acting in this film was definitely the highlight for me. DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) were great as the grandchildren, but I have to say the grandparents stole the show. Peter McRobbie (Lincoln) played Pop Pop and was spectacular. What was probably the most interesting part of his performance was how subtle he portrayed his character’s odd behavior. Most of the time McRobbie’s character acted relatively normal, but then you would notice him doing or saying something that was off. If made you gradually realize that he wasn’t all there. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Deanna Dunagan (Dimension) who played Nana. Her issues becomes apparent much more quickly, and Dunagan does an excellent job making us believe it. Her performance is most striking in the moments where Nana seems completely lucid, but then quickly falls back into her odd and extreme behaviors.
One of the things that Shyamalan is famous for is that he always has a twist in his films. This film was no exception, but it was a much more subtle twist. Sadly, I was able to figure out the twist long before it was revealed. Despite this I still thought the ending was done really well. Me knowing what the twist was didn’t take away from the intensity of the ending at all. The fact that the twist was so simple, but still shocking and frightening, is another example of Shyamalan going back to basics to make this film a hit.
After seeing this film, I am very relieved. Ever since I saw the initial trailer I have been concerned that this film would be a rip-off of The Taking of Deborah Logan, which came out last year (and was one of the favorite horror films of 2014). While the films were similar in their documentary style and the fact that both dealt with deteriorating mental states in the elderly, I’m happy to say that in most other respects they were very different films. If you liked The Taking of Deborah Logan, you will probably enjoy The Visit. If you used to love M. Night Shyamalan, but have been jaded by the several recent flops he’s done, give The Visit a chance. It will keep you at the edge of your seat, it has a great twist, and it has a healthy dose of humor thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10