Review: ‘The Visit’ Is A Step In the Right Direction For Shyamalan







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Posted September 15, 2015 by

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How many times now have we been burned by Mr. Shyamalan? Too many to count, I suppose. When he broke onto the scene with ‘Sixth Sense’ I felt he was going to be one of the best voices in the horror genre before it was all said-and-done, but the writer/director tried to capitalize on the ‘shocking twist’ aspect throughout his films that really took away (or just completely ruined) any of the tension you felt while watching them. Basically he’d build a scary premise and then ruin it with a terrible reveal in the final act that made you feel like you wasted your time watching it in the first place. So you can understand why I was hesitant sitting down to watch this movie: Did I just pay money to be letdown yet again?


Fortunately for me, Shyamalan finally made an interesting horror film that, yes, had a twist ending, but one that felt natural. The weirder part is that he made a found-footage film that I didn’t completely detest.

When Becca and Tyler’s mom (Hahn) sends them to their grandparents to visit for the first time, everyone is a little on edge. Will they get along with these older people they’ve never met? Will their grandparents’ fallout with their mom years before harvest into resentment? While these problems seem petty, Shyamalan is able to use them in ways that support the bigger problem successfully. He also uses complications from getting older (dementia, sleepwalking, paranoia) to really set an unsettling scene and an all-around tense environment for these kids to be in.

This movie isn’t perfect by any means: there are plot holes and scenarios that don’t make sense or amount to anything. One of the things that kept taking me out of the film was Tyler’s (Oxenbould) need to freestyle his own raps. It felt cheesy and completely out of place. He also begins replacing curse words with the names of popular divas and that joke fell flat from the beginning but weaved its way through the entire film. Shyamalan plants a lot of smoking guns in the first two acts and when he finally brings them back, a lot of them work and some just feel forced.

What made this movie was the acting. Playing the part of the kids, DeJonge and Oxenbould have to carry this film from beginning to end and do enough to keep the viewer intrigued. McRobbie and Dunagan as the grandparents really steal the show, however. Both actors perfectly balance playing the part of loving grandparents that also have inner demons that threaten to ruin everything. They brought a lot to these characters that could have otherwise come off as stale or cliche, and when they aren’t on screen you find yourself waiting anxiously for them to return. A lot of the tension comes from both Dunagan and McRobbie doing very subtle things that chills you to the bone.

While this movie didn’t do enough to make me forgive Shyamalan for his past transgressions, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.




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