The Visit is a found footage horror film in which two siblings go to visit their long estranged grandparents. Once there, they discover that there is something seriously weird about them.
I heard a light buzz about this film, good reviews, saying Shyamalan was back on form, so, I was looking forward to it. The trailer was decently creepy, so I went in with high expectations. I’m glad then, that this film was fantastic.
This is a confident and creepy film that really knows what it’s doing, and does it well. First of all, it’s darn terrifying. The grandma is one of the creepiest screen characters in a while, every time we see her at night is a spine jangling jolt of cold water eeriness. The film builds on its mystery, just what is up with them?, and takes it in twisty turny directions.
There is a big ol’ Shyamalan twist, and some people may get it quickly, but I thankfully didn’t. It is quite obvious in retrospect, but I’m happy that I got to really engage with the film from the start and not get it spoilt by sleuthing out the mystery.
Shyamalan directs this film with verse and style. His titles are bright, his music choices, bold and creepy, he gets great performances from all his actors and he makes excellent choices when it comes to balancing horror and comedy.
That’s the other thing, it’s also surprisingly funny. In particular the younger brother, Tyler, is annoying in that younger brother sort of way, but also provides great comic relief. This is Shyamalan laughing with us, he knows the joke, and he’s playing it exceedingly well.
The Visit is also quite moving, Kathryn Hahn is great as the mum of the kids, estranged from her parents as a teenager, and living with some regret. The kids are both great actors and both have foibles and problems that make them more relatable. They are engaging as leads, and carry you through the narrative, making it feel real.
Shyamalan also makes good use of the found footage trope, here tying it into the plot to make it satisfactory, it never becomes annoying because it all kinda makes sense. The film does have flaws, its ha ha view of the elderly threatens to wrong foot it, but what carries it through is Shyamalan’s assured direction and vibrant visual and musical style.
Overall I thought it was a great, scary, funny and engaging film that had me gripped from beginning to end.
Rating: B+ 8/10