The Visit Movie Review & Film Summary

I was in the audience during Universal’s presentation at this year’s CinemaCon, when writer-director M. Night Shyamalan announced that The Visit was his way of “going back to his roots.” This statement wasn’t much of a shock since his films After Earth and The Last Airbender were all panned by critics and general audiences. It’s interesting, the man who made The Sixth Sense, is now someone whose name is usually the punchline to a joke. I will say, I’ve always felt he gets more flak than he deserves. Sure, I suffered through The Happening just like the rest of the world, but trust me there are far worse films and filmmakers out there.

Olivia DeJonge and Deanna Dunagan in The Visit

Olivia DeJonge and Deanna Dunagan in The Visit

Shyamalan explained to everyone at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace, “The goal of the film was to be the loudest, funnest movie-going experience.” Well, I can tell you that The Visit is not the loudest, nor the “funnest” movie-going experience I’ve had, but what I can tell you is that The Visit is not a bad film. Now that might seem backhanded, but I truly mean it. After his mistakes mentioned above, The Visit isn’t bad—it’s just not that great either.

The film follows Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), a sister and brother, who go to spend a week with their estranged grandparents. However, once they arrive, the siblings begin to notice that their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) are much more than meets the eye. So, while Becca and Tyler try to learn more about their family, they also try to uncover why their grandparents are acting so strange.

The best element, The Visit has to offer is the acting. All four performances from the main characters are quite good. Especially, the performance delivered by Dunagan. She has this warm, loving smile that will transport any viewer to their grandparent’s house. But, she can instantly lose that smile and transform to a dark, lost soul. Her transformation is the most haunting element of this picture and is what makes it worth watching.

The movie is shot using, the now overused, technique of found-footage. But, Shyamalan uses it well. He manages to breathe new life into what I considered a usually awful technique, proving that he isn’t as bad as a filmmaker as people put him out to be. Becca and her brother are trying to document this entire experience, so the way the shots are staged, and the different angles are used, it feels very fitting. I completely believe that it was shot by a young, aspiring filmmaker.

However, even with the great performances and editing, The Visit will confuse audiences. Most will go to the theater expecting a truly frightening picture, but instead will laugh more than they shriek. The constant humor works the majority of the time. I assumed he was letting the audience breathe until the drastic, horrific climax, but unfortunately that never comes. It feels like one giant tease, as the payoff is simply not satisfying. Instead, the signature Shyamalan twist, feels generic, uncreative, and takes away from the movie-going experience.

The Visit is M. Night Shyamalan’s best film in years, but that is easy to say after his few year slump. It offers performances and editing worth seeing, but overall it might disappoint audiences in the end, letting them feel that their visit wasn’t worth the time.

2 out of 4 stars

-By Jacob Tiranno

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:

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