THE VISIT – REVIEW – M. Night Shyamalan’s new film is a tightly-made, witty little found footage chiller about how creepy old people are.
Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and young brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are off to visit their grandparents for the first time. They live deep in the countryside and have been estranged from their daughter – the children’s mother – for some years. Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) are pleased to see them and pull out all the stops to make them feel welcomed. Becca, of course, is filming a documentary and there is a sense of generational distance as the two slightly obnoxious, certainly precocious kids run around filming everything while something is apparently wrong with their grandparents. Told to stay in their rooms after nine thirty, they hear strange sounds and it soon becomes apparent that something is wrong with the elderly. Shyamalan keeps the tone light and also several possible explanations in the balance, one of which is simply old age and attendant sadness and mental decay.
As with most horror tales the denouement can’t quite live up to the set up, and Shyamalan seems to become undecided at this point, throwing out a scatter-gun of possibilities. But following the disasters of After Earth and Last Airbender – I won’t mention The Happening as I prefer to believe that it never happened – The Visit must be seen as a return to form. The low budget and the absence of stars has brought the director back to his core talents, creating tension and character based storytelling. Even his trademark twist has been relinquished unless the surprise in the tail is actually that Shyamalan has come up with a pretty good film.