It is well known that the once great M. Night Shyamalan has struggled over the years with his directorial efforts. This year he has come back to the forefront and looks like he is pushing to make a comeback with first producing the series Wayward Pines and directing at least one episode. The series did pretty well and then the trailer for his latest theatrical release The Visit hit and caught people a bit by surprise. Could this film be another stepping stone on his road back to the filmmaker we came to love or will it be a wasted trip?
The Visit follows a brother and sister who head out to meet and stay with their grandparents for the first time. With their mother’s strained relationship with them, her daughter sets out to document the hopeful road to bring them back together, but when strange things begin happening during their stay it is clear there is a lot more deadly happenings here than they thought. While this film is not breaking down any walls in the horror genre, it does manage to entertain on numerous levels. Shyamalan has stepped back to his roots as a filmmaker to do something on a smaller scale and has taken the burnt out found footage style and made it his own. Most of these films make little to no sense of why they are filmmaking, but here he made it make sense and work on just about every level. There is plenty of humor here, but it all works as a more natural occurrence as opposed to forced comedy. This gives the film a more real feeling while never poking fun of what he is trying to do. There are some creepy moments, but he never forces the cheap scare in the film and instead allows it to build up as you try and figure out what is going on. The pacing feels a bit slow at times, but when it gets to the main point of the film it makes a little more sense as it is trying to be more organic.
Despite it being a found footage film you can still see the Shyamalan style in storytelling. He builds it up like he does so well to reveal a fun twist to the whole thing. There is no gore to speak of, but there is a pretty gross sequence involving an adult diaper that was not expected and pretty nasty. The cast all did a great job with the kids leading the charge played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould who brought a down to Earth sentiment to them with just enough of the sibling issues to make you buy into it. The grandparents played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie steel the show with their creepy performances. Even when they are acting normal there is just something off with them making it work all the better. It’s really hard to explain their performance without spoiling too much of the film so let’s just say they knock it out of the park. Finally you have Kathryn Hahn who plays more of a supporting role as the kids mother. She gives as more normal performance than fans are used to and brings exactly what is needed for the story to work.
The only real issue with the film is the ending. The aspect of the ending of the bizarre nature of it all is a perfect horror ending that should have been the final scene, but for some reason Shyamalan decided to add this emotional cap that just felt like it was apart of a different film. It does fit with the bigger story of it all and was meant to apart of the documentary the young girl was making, but for the audiences watching this film it feels misplaced. If you decide to check it out, then go in as though you are watching the finished documentary and it will likely not annoy you near as much. While this film isn’t perfect it is entertaining and a return to form for Shyamalan that will hopefully kick him back into gear of bringing more great films to the fans.
In addition to the film this release includes an alternate ending, deleted scenes, making of featurette and photo album. Take a trip to the grandparent’s house when The Visit hits Blu-ray and DVD on Blu-ray and DVD on January 5th and available now on Digital HD from Universal Home Entertainment.