The Visit sees pair of youngsters set out to visit their grandparents for the first time. Once there, the duo quickly realizes that something is badly amiss. Their grandmother sleep-vomits and their grandfather keeps a pile of dirty diapers in the barn adjacent to their home. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, things get weirder and more treacherous from there and the kids wind up in a fight for their very survival.
This post originally ran prior to the film’s theatrical release but has been updated with a critique of the Blu-ray.
I was really hoping that this film might be an opportunity for M. Night Shyamalan to redeem himself after a string of flops but I am sad to say that this is not likely the vehicle that will reignite the director’s career.
Shyamalan pulls double duty, writing and directing this flick and his influence is immediately apparent. Even though he explores the mock-doc/found footage narrative style, Shyamalan’s fingerprints are all over this. We have a series of twists, a very PG-13 approach to onscreen violence, and a slow burn pace. Certain things from that formula work but it goes off the rails more than it succeeds at delivering anything cohesive.
One of the biggest problems with the film is its schizophrenic tendencies: It doesn’t know if it wants to be a horror film, a comedy, or a family drama. It’s a jack of all trades and a master of none. Shyamalan focuses so much on the comedic asides that the film never really succeeds at ratcheting up the tension. Rather than breaking up the tension with moments of humor, the attempts at humor are broken up by attempts at tension. It’s like an inversion of the typical horror movie formula and it just doesn’t work.
One of the film’s few saving graces is that the humor is actually somewhat funny. However, even that gets stale at times and isn’t enough to save the picture from its shortcomings. I will say that Child actors Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould do a reasonably good job with the material they are given. But, again, it’s not enough to keep the film afloat.
I have to say that there is almost no shaky camerawork, as is typical of a found footage film. It’s a little unrealistic for the camerawork to be so well done with two kids who aren’t even old enough to drive operating the camera but I would actually rather suspend my disbelief and avoid getting motion sickness than sit through 90 minutes of shaky cam in the name of authenticity.
As for the twists, they are really not that twisty. They are ultimately predictable and kind of a letdown. Shyamalan was once something of a master of twist endings–boasting legendary endings with films like The Sixth Sense, but The Visit basically goes out with a whimper, as opposed to a bang.
Speaking of going out, there is absolutely no final scare. Period. I was really disappointed that the film ended as it did. It was probably an attempt to be different but that’s not the kind of different most horror fans are seeking. A film of this kind needs a final scare and without one, it feels incomplete.
Ultimately, The Visit falls short of greatness. It often even falls short of being entertaining. I would not suggest flocking to your local multiplex for this one. Wait for it to hit Netflix or Amazon Prime and check it out when you’ve got some time to kill.
As for the home video release, the transfer and sound are just fine. The film comes with deleted scenes, an alternate ending, a making of featurette, and more. I appreciate the consideration that went into packaging the release but since I wasn’t a huge fan of the film, it was hard to get too excited about the bonus content.
The Visit will be available on DVD and Blu-ray January 5, 2016.
WICKED RATING: 3/10
Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Writer(s): M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould
Release: January 5, 2016
Studio/ Production Co: Blumhouse, Universal
Budget: $5 Million (Estimated)
Length: 94 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Horror Comedy