Hot Take: The Visit is funny, creepy and toys with you throughout. It’s still not The Sixth Sense but it’s a well-told scary movie.
David Copperfield never made the mistake of making the Statue of Liberty disappear as his first trick. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for M. Night Shyamalan who set the bar ridiculously high with The Sixth Sense and we’ve never cut him a break since.
Maybe The Visit will be the break he’s been looking for. First, it’s not perfect. It’s basically the world’s most annoying children have a sleepover at the house of the world’s creepiest grandparents. If you want to understand the level of annoying the children are at, imagine if the creepy documentary teens from The Blair Witch Project survived and spawned. As for the creepiness of the grandparents, their about as creepy as the old people in The Skeleton Key.
Shyamalan films have a particular tone. This film has it. But there’s a refreshing quality to The Visit that’s quite different than some of the more recent M. Night offerings. First, the young protagonists are annoyingly weird but not Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel in The Happening weird. There’s a twist. But the twist is hidden in plain sight and it’s closer to a classic horror twist than an M. Night Shyamalan twist.
The best part of The Visit is it’s subtle psychological attack on the audience. The daylight scenes are brooding but humorous and disarming while the scenes at night are creepy as hell. There were times where the kids are so annoying, you almost wish something bad would happen to them. When it does, you feel a little bit guilty. There are moments of pure fear and others of absurd overreactions which make you laugh at yourself for even worrying something bad might happen.
This film delivered just the right amount of tension, trepidation and fear with sprinkles of comic relief that felt organic not forced. Outside of The Sixth Sense, there’s a place in the discussion for The Visit as Shyamalan’s second best.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- There’s Plenty of Suspense
Even if you sense what is happening (the signs are there), you’re still curious as to why.
- As Always, Shyamalan Movies Are Fun to Talk About
Even the worst M. Night Shyamalan film (with the exception of The Last Airbender, let’s never mention that one again) is fun to bring up as they are polarizing.
- The Visit Doesn’t Dig Deep And That’s A Good Thing
Most of Shyamalan’s films feel like they mean more. This one might, too, but it doesn’t feel like it has to mean more. It’s just a scary thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Trailer
The trailer is pretty flawless as most of the director’s trailers are. Sometimes it’s better to under promise and over deliver, a concept lost on Shyamalan. There’s no way The Visit can live up to it’s trailer but, by now, we should expect it.
- The Film’s Treatment of Old People and Mental Illness
Grandma and grandpa are old. They have old people problems. These are marginalized and some might not take kindly to the way the subject is handled.
- You Might Not Like Yet Another Attempt At the Found Footage Genre
The found footage device is oft-used. Some will find it tired and derivative.