Shyamalan’s best work since “Signs” resulting in a comically thrilling tale with a solid third-act that has been his nemesis in recent films.
Two kids will get much more than they bargained for when they are sent to spend the week with their estranged grandparents and soon learn they are far beyond your typically eccentric senior citizens.
M. Night Shyamalan has had a tough time in recent years with a string of movies that failed to bring much box-office return, or praise from critics. I loved “The Sixth Sense”, “Signs” and “Unbreakable” and as much as I wanted his follow-up films to deliver, in the end they simply did not. There was no doubt his works continued to boast interesting ideas that could result in captivating films, but the crucial third-act had seem to be his biggest hurdle and the results were often movies that had viewers scratching their heads.
While many have given up on Shyamalan, I still think he has a great cinematic mind and I was very curious to see if he could pull off the Hollywood magic he created with a seeming ease earlier in his directorial career. When the trailer for this film came out I was interested and hoped it would not turn out to be a similar disappointment to films like, “The Village”, “The Happening” and “The Lady in the Water”.
After watching I can honestly say this was the tense thriller I was hoping for. It gave much more than expected with some strong cast performances, tightly written comedic dialogue and a story structure that culminates in Shyamalan’s best third-act since “Signs”. The premise of the script was simplistic in its approach, highly intriguing, and most of all it felt fresh. The premise is set up quickly and the odd moments trickle in soon after and it worked great to capture attention.
The child actors, Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould were surprisingly strong. Both of them created easily connectable characters and their mature demeanor was a nice addition to a film that could have could have been extremely less enjoyable had their performances not been as good as they were. There were a string of laughable lines, in particular from Oxenbould, who brought the film a likable and charming character, who felt at ease carrying the comedic weight that was a subplot to this thriller.
I was immediately pulled into the story through the two kids as they begin to see things that make them think their grandparents may have mental health problems. The way the two kids react to the situations were realistic and the writing had them steering away from dumb character decisions that can disconnect you as a viewer. Dunagan as Nana was also very good in her role. She was comforting and sweet one moment and sinister to the point of goosebumps during others. She was perfect for the role that Shyamalan relied on to build the eerie moments.
As the actions around the isolated house escalated I found myself on the edge of my seat. There were a handful of well shot scenes that brought some frightening moments without seeming out of place or forced. When there wasn’t flat out creepy moments going on during the nights, the story was able to fill the time with some tense moments built from the oddly eerie actions of the grandparents during the day as well with their demeanor and odd comments. Throughout the story you can feel the tension building and it all pays off with a great third-act that finally feels like a rewarding payoff from Shyamalan.
Overall I thought “The Visit” was a fun thriller that built tension gradually and paid it off well. The found-footage technique was able to create some suspenseful moments and added to the ominous tone and look of the film, and it lured my attention throughout. There were some solid jump-scares, which can get old in films but they were well utilized in this one and not used as the only option for frightening moments.
The characters were great and Shyamalan was able to make a strong impact with a simple but interesting script. He didn’t try to create too deep a message that he often has trouble telling in the fabric of the story, and it was for the better. This film had me creeped out one minute and chuckling the next. The film got more interesting as it progressed and make it worth a watch to see Shyamalan finally deliver a winner.
– Starring –
Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Katheryn Hahn
– Directed By –
M. Night Shyamalan
Time: 94 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, brief language)