Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Running Time: 94 min
Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent to live with their grandparents so their mother can enjoy a vacation with her new boyfriend. Becca is a budding filmmaker and decides to film a documentary about her grandparents, which soon leads to a dark secret being discovered about the loveable old fogies.
M. Night Shyamalan's career has been on the downward spiral since 2006, with a series of critically panned and commercially disastrous duds that most people wondering if he'd lost his touch. There was a time at the turn of the century where he was the hottest thing in genre cinema and you couldn't even bury yourself in an underground bunker without hearing mention of his name. Now it's impossible for anybody to review one of his movies without discussing his career trajectory given how much it slumped. However, there's always a sense of intrigue surrounding his movies whenever one is released. The Visit - which M. Night financed himself - sees him at his most unrestrained to-date. However, an unrestrained Shyamalan is just as mediocre as he's always been.
The Visit has an excellent premise, but like all of Shyamalan's work, it just didn't live up to it. Not a lot happens at all, and when it does it's all so underwhelming. Tonally, it's all over the place: a cross between a slow-brooding chiller and off-kilter comedy; which would be fine if it was atmospheric or funny. Let's start with the main characters, the kids. Both are spectacular in their roles - as is the whole cast, to be fair - but Tyler is one of the most annoying children you're ever likely to encounter. Inspired by rapper Tyler The Creator, he emulates his hero with equal amounts of obnoxiousness. His sister, Becca, is fine. Not memorable in anyway, although you can't help but resent her knowing if her character wasn't written, this movie wouldn't exist and that would be a good thing. Sorry, that was harsh.
The cast all perform their roles well and the grandparents are effectively creepy. There's a couple of scenes with the grandma - including a chase under the house and a hilarious scene with an oven that offer a much welcome diversion from the tediousness that is the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, it's just not enough to save this from being a mostly uneventful, uninteresting turd of a movie. It lacks the tension needed for an effective slow burn horror film and it doesn't have enough laughs or gallows humour to work as a comedy. It sits somewhere on the fence as a flat attempt at both and quite frankly, it's all my fault for expecting something more given that I haven't enjoyed a single M. Night Shyamalan film in my life. If you're on my boat, I doubt this will win you over. However, if you are a fan of his earlier efforts, you might find The Visit to be a return to form.
Great performances from the cast and a couple of scenes stop this from being a complete turkey; but that's all it has going for it. Avoid unless you're already a fan. This movie has saved M. Night's career, so let's hope he can make something spectacular in the future. I think if he worked with good writers he could be a great filmmaker. For now he's nothing more than a Sandman, and his films are the dust that help me get to sleep. 4/10