MNight Shyalaman. Over the past few years, that name has become almost as infamous to movie-goers and critics alike as that of director Michael Bay. He produced masterpieces like “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”, and also gave the world films like “The Happening” and “The Last Airbender,” which many consider to be one of the worst adaptations in cinematic history.
Now he gives us “The Visit,” a found-footage horror-comedy about two kids meeting their grandparents for the first time in a remote, countryside house. However, it soon becomes evident that something is not quite right with Nana and Pop Pop. Does this film signal the return of a once-great producer, or is this one visit we should not make anytime soon? Well…
The story is a basic one; two siblings, Becca and Tyler, go to meet their grandparents, but the grandparents are actually very creepy. Throughout the film, the simple plot actually helps the movie, as it makes the thriller element all the more potent. The found-footage style also makes the fear element more in-your-face and personal. The kids know as little about their grandparents as the audience does, and a thriller starring young children makes viewers more afraid for them than they would be for a middle-aged couple. This tactic ensnares the audience, investing them emotionally in the fates of two young children.
The small cast allows for plenty of room to establish and develop the characters. Becca and Tyler are likeable and have interesting personalities. Rebecca’s love of filmmaking actually allows the audience to see the film in its found-footage format. These two kids are the main source of the film’s comedy, which can be both good and bad, as there are some moments that feel a bit forced. Thankfully, the movie escapes the common trap of sub-par child actors. The characters who really steal the show are Nana and Pop Pop. I never knew elderly people could be so scary. There were moments when my heart just stopped because of their performances. These two performances from opposites sides of the acting spectrum, comedy from the youth and horror from the elders, carry the movie forward.
Should you see this movie? Yes, you should — if only to convince yourself that Shyamalan still has it in him. I agree with the many people and critics who said that this movie is a real return to form for the man. Does this film signal the start of a new age for Shyalaman? Only his next film will tell us that. The price of admission is definitely worth it. The movie is not perfect, but you will not be dissatisfied.