Shannon Mullins ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
M. Night Shyamalan has become known for his thoughtful and suspenseful thrillers, including The Sixth Sense, The Village, and Signs. The Visit however is not so thoughtful or suspenseful, although it does attempt to be. The film centers on Becca and her younger brother Tyler as they say goodbye to their mother and prepare to head into the Pennsylvania farm country to meet their estranged grandparents. They decide to document this special visit, and in doing so begin to notice very strange behavior from their assumedly run-of-the-mill Nana and Pop-pop.
The Visit features several rather unknown actors, the first of which being Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), a 13-year-old aspiring rapper obsessed with using modern-day slang. Although his character intends to provide a meaningful backstory, this gets lost between his various doofy antics and one-liners. His older sister Becca, played by (Olivia DeJonge) is obsessed with creating a meaningful documentary about visiting their grandparents for the very first time. In an attempt to make these two characters provide depth and troubled pasts, Shyamalan loses the viewers as to what the underlying point to the film is. The awkward monologues pose to create depth for the characters but instead serve as time-wasters. There is no depth, and essentially no emotional attachment whatsoever.
Nowadays many horror films have adapted to the documentary style shot in an attempt to add realism to the story. In The Visit, the element of POV filming is stressed to the point of becoming an extremely central part to the story, therefore losing the desired thrill of the trend. Viewers will enjoy the various spooks provided, but they are surface-level and nothing too menacing. Some of the twists will be considered pretty strange in an attempt to unleash a bizarrely profound thriller but the film doesn’t feature anything the viewer wouldn’t expect from something shot in a POV manner. The Visit will thrive off the jump scares experienced in theaters, but the plot is so ludicrous that no one will be left shaken. The plot is predictable, similar to the Paranormal Activity franchise in which we know an investigation of some sort will lead to a spook, and with nighttime comes an odd occurrence. It doesn’t take too much thought to predict the film’s ending, which is done so with a rather anti-climatic unveiling. The plot is also extremely unbelievable. Shyamalan attempts to create a realistic film, but certain aspects are really just impossible to be true given the circumstances. Several aspects of the plot are never explained, or at least the weak attempts to explain them are not at all effective. You really can’t make sense of it, yet twenty minutes after viewing you will have forgotten you ever saw it.
The comic relief is intentional for the most part, but takes away from the fact that this film was intended to be a thriller. Any somewhat scary scene in this film is completely destroyed by humor. It was funny the entire way through, even when it wasn’t really supposed to be. The climatic scene in which a family game of Yahtzee goes wrong is too humorous to actually be a climax. A horror movie that provides more laughs than scares isn’t really a horror movie. It may be startling at times, but not enough to keep you up at night. The Visit is not at all memorable but a fun experience in theaters. It is a playful comeback for Shyamalan but proves to be rather disappointing for audiences hoping to find a really scary movie.
Overall grade: C
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