M. Night Shyamalan has fallen quite a ways since his hey days of Signs and The Sixth Sense. Audience members prepare for his token ‘twist’ and they just keep getting more outlandish. This year’s The Visit pares down the story and film back to the basics, and still we can’t help but think his film is still just inadequate and inferior.
Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger Tyler’s (Ed Oxenbould) mom is in need of some serious R&R. So they take it upon themselves to take their grandparents up on an offer to stay with them for a week so mom can have some quality time with her new boyfriend, especially after the sudden and painful divorce. Never having met the grandparents, since their mother is estranged from her parents, they embark on an adventure to Pennsylvania farm country. At first Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) are welcoming and loving, all seems well, but then they start noticing odd tendencies about the elder couple and start to think this isn’t what they had planned.
People keep claiming that The Visit is the redemption film for M. Night Shyamalan after such travesties as The Happening or The Last Airbender. Having never seen the latter, I wasn’t all that disappointed in the former. The problem with his films is they try so hard to be grand, rather than actually being an extraordinary concept. It shows in his ever decreasing popularity, and The Visit is no exception.
Once again we have an M. Night Shyamalan film with a twist, which, if you perceive that as a spoiler then you are bonkers because every one of his films have a twist. The acting is poor, resting on the shoulders of two child actors who are not quite up to the task. Their personas and the family dynamic with the mother (Kathryn Hahn) is not one we typically see in film, but it is there, and M. Night’s ability to bring it to life is lesser than his predecessors. The only good actress in the film was Deanna Dunagan as the batty Nana, but that is not enough to save the film overall.
In all honesty, I wanted to stop watching after five minutes. The painful exposition, the trendy use of faux documentary cam footage in a horror film, and the bland characters – it was obvious this was not going to be good, let alone great. But, I persisted, and unfortunately that time invested didn’t pay off. With no scares and very little story to build constant tension to give the illusion of fear, we were dreadfully disappointed once again.