The Visit review
I think for a lot of kids, one of their biggest fears is not being able to sleep in the same house as their parents. You could be staying with a grandparent you’re your best friend, but your smart enough to know that while these people know you, your parents understand you better. I can’t think of how many times that while I was staying with my grandparents, I’d wish my mom and dad would be home sooner from their vacation. The old fashioned home I was in wasn’t scary, but the age of the place was intimidating. It was almost haunting-like.
That’s not to say my grandparents were bad people; I loved them in fact. Most kids live by routine and a departure from that can become frightening itself. People can outgrow this, but show me a kid whose never been intimidated by another surrounding and I’ll show you a man whose never been afraid. One of my biggest questions I asked myself as I drifted into sleep in the guestroom was, “Did my grandparents feel this way when they first moved in?”. Two kids question their new surroundings from familiar people in The Visit.
Young teens Rebecca (played by Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (played by Ed Oxenbould) are planning to stay for a week with their grandparents who’ve they’ve never met before. Their visit is the product of their single mother Paula (played by Kathryn Hahn) who has been estranged from her folks and doesn’t want to open up why, even though she agrees to let the children visit them.
Rebecca is an aspiring documentarian and has decided to record her upcoming visit by camera (The Visit is shot in a found footage style for this reason) while Tyler is an amateur rapper. The two take the train to the Pennsylvania countryside to have what is hopefully to be a fun and informative week.
Their greeted by their grandpa “papa” John (played by Peter McRobbie) and grandma “nana” Doris (played by Deanna Dunagan) who live on an isolated farmhouse. At first, they seem to be loving and want to spoil the kids with games and unlimited treats from the kitchen. The only rule given is lights out at 9:30, as their old.
The kids start to hear noises at night and notice strange behavior and mood swings through out the day. Though dismissed as dementia, the kids try to figure out what could be up with these people and whether their mothers past had anything to do it.
As soon as I saw the name M. Night Shyamalan, I went in expecting another scary story that I can laugh at for being dumb and unfrightening. The Visit however may have broken Shyamalan’s bad track and let me to declare that the movie is “not that bad” Yea, your probably in shock that this is actually a descent film, but this remains the first in my book that the director may finally be in on the joke.
Though The Visit is a horror movie, this also happens to be a funny story, especially with the two kids who are pretty good actors, my favorites though have to be the grandparents who seem to carry a blanket of warmth and uneasiness. That’s not easy for an elder to pull off, but I could see how I would have been fooled at around this age. This can unfortunately come off as a bit uneven in tone in various spots, but I think the film still works. The other factor I usually criticize Shyamalan for is his use of sudden twists, but I found it both scary and made sense the more I thought about it. The Visit heavily relies on how much one doesn’t know.
I’ll give this four sets of baked cookies out of five. This happens to be a good horror film for those that want a genuine scare without much of the blood and guts one would find in a typical slasher. The Visit is a nice return to form for Shyamalan.
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