I’m a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. I have now seen every single one of his films on opening day. Yes, even The Sixth Sense. I know some of the movies sucked (The Happening, After Earth) and some were just so-so (The Last Airbender was flawed due to forcing so much from a specific source material). Hell, I even loved The Lady in the Water thanks to its silly nature, and all of its meta bullshit.
The Visit looked interesting from the get go. I knew I was in for a treat when the trailers showed Nana naked and scratching at a door. So imagine my surprise when the film starts, and it’s a weird “found footage” comedy film with bits of horror.
I know, I know. This sounds stupid, but bare with me, boys and girls, because The Visit just might be the most twisted little PG-13 horror/comedy we’ve ever gotten.
Becca is an aspiring teen filmmaker. Her mother gets contacted by her estranged parents, and she feels that if she can make this film about fixing the wounds of the past that her family just might be helped a little. Her mom is going on a cruise with her new boyfriend, so Becca and her brother, Tyler, convince her to send them to their grandparent’s house for a week.
What M. Night Shyamalan does is tell two different stories here. Becca and Tyler each have a camera, and both kids are completely different. Becca is the older and more mature sibling, looking to fix the family and learn about her past. Tyler is a rapper who wants to make it big on Youtube, so his humor is his ability to rap about anything. This could have gone terribly wrong, but works wonders as the two child actors have great chemistry together. Ed Oxenbould’s (Tyler) comedic timing is spot-on. The jokes actually hit the mark 90% of the time. Easily the best aspect of his video footage is when he decides to stop cussing and use different pop star names. It’s this style of humor that breaks up the tension that slowly builds, and it’s needed so your guard is constantly lowered.
Deanna Dunagan plays Nana, and she is fantastic and creepy. She looks like she could be anyone’s grandmother, but her nighttime antics are super creepy. Not to make you think this film is a pure comedy; there are horror moments sprinkled throughout. The hide and seek game from the trailer is actually really early on in the film, and is frantic and creepy, but each time something happens, an actual plausible reason is given.
Then the third act happens. While certain aspects of this act are predictable, it was also shocking for a PG-13 film. The audience in my theater was freaking out at a few different moments. Oddly enough, the last two minutes of the film (before the credits) feel very out of place and weirdly filmed, but I guess it works with the idea of found footage.
What I also enjoy is the direction and camera work. This sounds dumb since it’s a found footage film, but there are a number of moments where Becca is doing one on one interviews with people, and she always sets up the camera for a great angle. There’s also an interview that Tyler hosts that was bloody fantastic, and the camera work was spot-on for what was happening. Note that I am being intentionally vague to avoid spoilers.
The Visit might not be M. Night Shyamalan’s best film, but it is a shockingly entertaining film that hits the comedic and horror marks it’s aiming for, which is a rare feat. I’ve been thinking about the film for two days now, and can’t wait to watch it again. The theater experience might have added to the enjoyment, but I think it will hold up on repeat viewings much like The Sixth Sense does.