The Visit Movie Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Released by Universal Pictures
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan
2015, 94 minutes, Rated PG-13
Theatrically released on September 11th, 2015
Kathryn Hahn as Mother
Olivia DeJonge as Rebecca Jamison
Ed Oxenbould as Tyler Jamison
Deanna Dunagan as Nana
Peter McRobbie as Pop-Pop
M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit is a game, low-budget attempt for him to show that he's still got the chops to make entertaining movies, and for the most part is a success.
Rebecca and her brother Tyler decide to spend a week with their grandparents, who they've never met because of a falling out with their mother who left when she was very young. Their mother won't tell them why, which really only makes Rebecca more curious since she's a budding filmmaker and wants to make a documentary about the whole thing, and perhaps mend fences between her mom and her grandparents. So the kids hop a train and meet their grandparents, and then weird stuff happens.
This is a "found footage" type of movie, but the purists will bring out their butcher knives if I don't tell you that this is clearly edited after the fact, and hence doesn't fit the exact definition of found footage. It is all shot from the two cameras that Rebecca takes with her, so you do need to suspend the disbelief in parts as to why they're still filming (and in many cases, filming WAY better than they could film given what's happening on the screen in conjunction with the kind of cameras they're using).
The movie plays well on the inherent creepiness of old people. The leathery skin. The sunken, watery eyes. The weird oddities about them that maybe we don't get because we haven't gotten to that age yet. And the actors playing Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-Pop (Peter McRobbie) are very, very good in their roles.
And Shyamalan has some tricks still up his sleeve. He even manages to throw in a twist that you probably won't see coming, so the less you see/read about the movie the better.
It's a short 94-minutes long, but there are times when it drags. Some of the time the kids spend talking to each other could definitely have used some trimming, or spicing up, but Ed Oxenbould, who plays Tyler, makes the most of his role in a breakout performance.
The Visit is rated PG-13, but as many films (Jaws, Insidious, The Ring) have proved, you don't need an R to be scary. While certainly not terrifying, it's plenty creepy with a couple of good jump scares. The gore hounds will be disappointed because there's very little of that, but there's one scene in particular that had the entire theater recoiling in revulsion.
The Visit, while not a full-fledged announcement that Shyamalan can still bring the scares, is still an interesting, creepy entry into the filmmaker's resume and hopefully signals a return toward smaller, more personal films for the director.