M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VISIT (2015) is a found-footage horror film about 15-year-old Becca and her 13-year-old brother Tyler, who visit their grandparents for five days while their mother goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. The children’s mother hasn’t spoken to her parents in many years after a fight, and Becca, a precocious and intelligent girl, intends to get to the bottom of it by shooting a homemade documentary during the visit.
At first, everything seems great. The grandparents come across as a little wooden and eccentric, and the kids settled in by exploring and trying to get to know them. Then the grandparents start acting weirder and weirder, especially at night …
I liked the movie, even though I’m often put off by found-footage films. It’s been described as a modern-day “Hansel and Gretel,” and I think that fits. M. Night Shyamalan gets back to basics with this film, and it works. He likes to do big twists and sometimes overreaches for them, but the twist works very well in THE VISIT because it’s simple and powerful. The kids are amusing, though a bit too smart and precocious to the point where they felt kind of Scooby-Dooish at times, and Tyler’s catharsis of overcoming his personal issue comes across so strongly as to flirt with the edge of silly. The grandparents are excellently acted and menacing, particularly the grandmother, whose crazy was fun to watch.
Where I think Shyamalan errs is in the denouement, where a comical touch is added. I’m all for horror and comedy mixing, as the two are kissing cousins, but it doesn’t work here and ends the movie on the wrong note in my view. The entire denouement wraps up a few personal character arcs, which could have been dramatically shortened to greater effect.
Okay, by now it probably sounds like I didn’t dig it, but I did despite these reservations. THE VISIT is a solid horror movie and definitely worth a watch for genre fans.