The Visit

Tara Dombrowski

The Visit, is a horror film directed by the man most film junkies have a love/mostly hate relationship with, M. Night Shyamalan. He wowed us with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but not a lot of his films since then have lived up to those two. Most would say he’s fallen off the wagon, that he’s lost his touch. Well, after seeing The Visit, which came out Sept. 11, I have to say that Shyamalan is indeed making a comeback.

M. Night Shymalan also directed The Sixth Sense (AP photo)
M. Night Shymalan also directed The Sixth Sense (AP photo)

Now, I am in no way saying that The Visit is up to par with The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan has a way to go before he reclaims his position as a great director and story teller.

The basic plot of this campy horror-comedy, which, by the way, is a refreshing take on the horror genre, is two kids going to see their grandparents for the first time.

Their mother left home when she was eighteen and hasn’t talked to her parents since until they call her up and ask to finally meet their grandkids. So, the two kids, Becca and Tyler, played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould, set out to meet their grandparents in hopes of getting them to admit that they forgive their mother.

Once at Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-Pop’s (Peter McRobbie) house, strange things begin to happen. She’s a creepy woman who runs around the house in her sleep and pukes up a weird substance, he’s an easily agitated man who hides a secret in the shed.

Although the acting is spectacular by all cast members, the characters are a bit flat. Becca is a film geek who is making a documentary of their visit, while Tyler is a rapper who doesn’t like germs.

That’s all we know about them. And the grandparents, well, they’re just creepy. We learn almost nothing about them, and what we do learn is delivered in confusing ways. In this way, the writing is choppy.

There is little exposition, and at times, it seems like there are too many things going on at once. There’s the family dynamic, of Becca and Tyler trying to get forgiveness for their mom.

There’s the humor, where this visit is played off as funny and awkward, which it is.
There’s the horror, where this visit is portrayed as being terrifying and strange. And then there’s the twist ending, which leaves some questions as to Shyamalan’s intentions and storytelling ability.

I, did, however, enjoy the pacing of the movie. The suspense was maintained throughout, despite the movie having a relatively simple plot. Also, M. Night Shyamalan had a great idea to present this movie as a documentary.

Becca’s filming of the trip is interesting as well as affective. The camera angles are simple, yet scary. There also is no background score, which adds to the creepiness of the movie. Overall, the film delivered in terms of scares and laughs. But it didn’t completely deliver in writing, plot, or characters.

The Sixth Sense was a suspense movie with heart, which is what I always loved about it. The Visit is a horror movie trying to have a heart, but it doesn’t really deliver.

The sub-plot about Becca and Tyler trying to find forgiveness for their mom and dealing with the abandonment of their father is a good idea, but, often it seems that these moments are thrown in to the script with not enough thought.

Again, the writing is choppy, and it jumps around from horror to humor to family. Despite these flaws, it seems evident to me that M. Night Shyamalan is successful in making a comeback.

He still has a way to go before he is again respected and loved, but he is making his way to becoming a great storyteller and director once more.