For most youth, making a visit to your grandparents’ place is a very normal activity. It could be a day trip, or sometimes maybe over a weekend. Because what can go wrong, right?
Frankly, a lot can go wrong. This film will show you why it can get real nasty. It may even change the way you see your grandparents in your next visit. A good horror-comedy that entertains, The Visit also works as an excellent thriller directed by none other than M. Night Shyamalan.
Firstly, The Visit is presented as a “found footage” film, which means the film is shown from the perspective of its main characters. In this instance, there are two leads – sibling teenagers Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). Becca is a budding filmmaker while Tyler is an aspiring rapper and YouTube comedian, and this gives the perfect reason for them to be recording on their cameras all day long.
Next, the siblings’ mom, played by Kathryn Hahn, is estranged from her parents. Thus, the teens have never seen their grandparents before, let alone met them. This also means they make the visit without their mom. So we have two adolescents, on their own, travelling to a suburban town to visit elderly folk they do not know and staying for a week.
Over at their grandparents’, they meet with John (Peter McRobbie) and Doris (Deanna Dunagan). They seem to be very ordinary folks – gentle and loving seniors who would adore their grandchildren. However, the weird encounters happen on the first night – when John instructs them to be in bed by 9.30pm, and warned not to come out after that.
At this point, Becca and Tyler are the most entertaining characters of the movie. The performances by DeJonge and Oxenbould are fantastic. Oxenbould, most recently seen in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, presents a fresh and authentic character that is very relatable as the modern-day teen, well-acquainted with pop culture. DeJonge, on the other hand, is the older sister and the more practical sibling who simply wants to make films.
McRobbie and Dunagan, the grandparents, also deliver convincing performances as old and possibly senile people. Dunagan, best known for her work as a stage actress, will be remembered best for the numerous startling, if not jarring, scenes in The Visit that will certainly keep your eyes glued throughout. The movie wastes no time either – the plot twist is followed immediately by the climatic sequences and keeps the adrenalin flowing.
After few misses and even fewer hits, The Visit marks a strong return to filmmaking for director Shyamalan, best known for 1999’s The Sixth Sense. His recent filmmaking mishaps, 2010’s The Last Airbender and 2013’s After Earth, had many fans skeptical of this latest work. But they will be impressed.
While “found footage’ movies are known to be destined for failure at the box office, The Visit could be a game changer as the format works to its advantage. It also appeals to moviegoers who would appreciate having their scares on a much more personal, interactive level.
All in all, The Visit works well for its shock factor as well as story idea that comes off as very creative and original. It also raises the idea that good movies need not be expensive, high-quality productions. Of course, this film is not without its shortcomings. However, the few plot loopholes can be easily overlooked for a fun time in the cinema. Just be sure to make that visit to your nearest theatre.
The Visit is now showing in theatres.
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Running time: 94 minutes