The Visit (2015)

The Visit (2015)
  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: M. Night Shyamalan
  • Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Peter McRobbie, Ed Oxenbould


The terrifying story of a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.


  • (Rating: ☆☆ out of 4)

    This film is not recommended.

    In brief: Not only is the camerawork shaky, so is the film itself.

    GRADE: C

    Visiting my grandparents every Sunday afternoon with my parents and brothers in tow was a family tradition. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t that high on my “to do” list. Neither was M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller, The Visit. Sadly, my initial reaction was very accurate.

    The director / screenwriter tells his story of two siblings, Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge), a fledgling auteur filmmaker and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) a precocious rapper wannabe, who go to meet and greet their grandparents for a memorable weekend while their mother (Kathryn Kahn) is off on a cruise with her boyfriend. Nana and Pop Pop (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) are more strange than estranged and their baby-sitting techniques are spotty than spot-on. The words and actions of the elders don’t gel as night approaches and the children aren’t nestled comfortably in their beds. The Visit takes this intriguing premise and slowly adds its element of suspense, danger and humor with some success. But the film disappoints. This children-in-peril tale lacks originality and its creepiness arrives in short spurts. Scares are at a minimum.

    Shyamalan uses ironic humor well, blaming the grandparents’ odd behavior on senility issues as he establishes his characters and hints at possible ominous clues as the film goes along its merry way. However, his execution of his source material undercuts the tension and horror elements by relying too heavily on the overdone found video footage approach (dating back to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project) with its overt in-your-face camerawork and skewed angles so prevalent in today’s horror film genres. While this may help to dramatically cut down of production costs and give a more realistic edge to the spooky happenings, the overall effect becomes a predictable cliché of its times.

    Fortunately, his script keeps the action moving and the cast, especially Ms. Dunagan, has a rousing good time with the eerie goings-on. There’s an interesting story here, but the artsy direction and its gimmicky handheld camerawork obscures most of the action and ruins any suspense. The twist, Shyamalan’s usual hook in storytelling, doesn’t make logical sense in afterthought and never builds to a satisfying end.

    While the film is better than most of the director’s cinematic results in his past decade of filmmaking, it is below par nevertheless. Simply stated, don’t visit The Visit.

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  • For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing from critics that The Visit (my latest review) is the utter comeback film for Mr. M. Night Shyamalan. Interesting. If that’s the case, then why is he bent on ripping off The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity via the first hour in. Listen Night, I know you’ve been taking a ribbing for not living up to the stature that is The Sixth Sense. But this hand-held, found footage thing seems so tired now, it might need a veritable doze. Time to “visit” something else dude.

    Filmed in rural Pennsylvania (that’s the Shyamalan way you know), featuring a surprise twist that I didn’t see coming (I’m probably the only Dodo bird critic that didn’t pick up on that one), and being rather generous for its PG-13 rating (I feel this thing should have garnered a hard R), The Visit does what many Shyamalan films do. It builds to a slow creep while you wait for the gotcha cessation. The story begins with the Jamison family. Paula Jamison (the perky Kathryn Hahn) is a single mother of two. Her husband left her to move to California and she hasn’t seen her parents in about 15 years. On a whim, she decides to go on vacation with her new boyfriend while her kids (Olivia DeJonge as Rebecca Jamison and Ed Oxenbould as Tyler Jamison) take a trip to their grandparents farmhouse in the bleak, Keystone State. Here’s the rub: Said grandparents contacted Paula through the Internet so Rebecca and Tyler are meeting them for the first time. Chaos then ensues when John Jamison (Peter McRobbie) and Doris Jamison (played by Deanna Dunagan who gives the film’s best performance) begin to act weird and creep out their fragile, young kin. Suicidal tendencies, scaling walls, collective feces, and dead bodies in the basement are what’s on tap for you the viewer. Oh and with the tagline for The Visit being “Don’t ever leave your room at 9:30 p.m.”, I thought it could be up there with “I see dead people”. In the case of this flick, the stars weren’t quite aligned.

    In retrospect, there’s a few chills to be had, a few jolts, and the performances by the old timers are pretty impressive (the kid actors on the other hand, are quite annoying). But in the end, it’s just a movie about two adolescents trapped in a house with a couple of crazy, deranged denizens (where else are the whippersnappers supposed to go, it’s in the middle of nowhere). Sadly, these two unhinged grandparents aren’t aliens or ghosts. They’re just whacked out of their minds. As for Shyamalan, well he seems to excel with certain shots when he’s not letting the young actors film documentary style. Big mistake. He should have just cropped the whole hand-held facet, dropped the incorporated comedy (which is good yet becomes embarrassing when a rap act takes over the closing credits), and just let it ride. Oh well. The Visit isn’t awful but it’s no where near as epic or eerie as his first three films. My rating: A nontoxic 2 and a half stars.

    Of note: With The Visit, you can easily tell what’s jittery fodder and what amounts to some capable direction by M. Night. My suggestion would have been to separate the two. Maybe have the found footage crap subjugate through a different lens or have its rec insignia placed in the right hand corner. It’s an oversight at best and probably wouldn’t bring greatness to fruition. Anyway, look for some gross moments here (a seventy-year-old woman runs naked and there are various scenes of poop in a diaper, yikes!) and a couple of dutch angles right before a disturbing game of Yahtzee. Oof!

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • The Sixth Sense. Unbreakable. Signs. These thrillers have helped put M. Night Shyamalan as one of the elite director/writers of the genre.

    Then came The Village…and Lady in the Water… and The Happening.

    Oh it kept getting worse.

    The Last Airbender, an attempt to bring back his credibility, was panned by everyone, especially with the movie deviating heavily from the animated series. Things got so bad that with his next film, After Earth, Shyamalan’s name was hidden until the credits.

    The Visit is his return to thrillers, and this time around, at least you’re told beforehand that you are watching one of his films.

    In the Visit, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent off by their mother for a week to get to know their grandparents, whom they have never met. With a borderline deux ex machina excuse for the kids to record everything along their vacation, they soon meet with their mother’s parents, “Nana” (Deanna Dunagan) and “Pop Pop” (Peter McRobbie) with a homemade sign that only a grandmother would have to shame to make.

    Then comes the “creepy part.”

    Just three simple rules are given for them to follow. They have to have a great time, eat as much as they want, and never leave their room after 9:30. Yes, the children do leave their room after 9:30.

    Suddenly, Nana can’t talk about her daughter. She refuses to let the kids go to the basement because of “mold.” She crawls back and forth under the house, and spits some vile liquid out of her mouth. When watching this, I was speechless. Not in the “I’m scared” speechless, but rather in the “is this suppose to be scary or a comedy” speechless.

    Tyler constantly drops “bars,” trying to be the comedic funny guy, which works for anyone watching under the age of common sense. If you want to watch someone believe that they are actually rapping, just watch Malibu’s Most Wanted.

    Everyone in the film seems to know the grandparents as honorable people, as they are always volunteering and helping others in need, but these fluff characters cant paint the “perfect people” portrait more phony than they do.

    The attempted suicides by both the grandparents aren’t shocking, but rather tasteless. Along with that, The Visit must have released the script to audience members, as no one seemed to be fooled by the jump scares. There’s always ONE in a movie that gets some people, or that awkward chuckle people do when they were caught off guard.

    Nope. Not here. You will laugh more than scream. That isn’t to say there are any funny moments either, but rather it is the only remaining emotion to convey if a movie isn’t a tear jerker, horror, or romance.
    It’s a shame really. Shyamalan would have been the modern day master of suspense (Hitchcock is turning over his grave as we speak) if he had continued his excellent work earlier on in his career. His one trick pony doesn’t even work in The Visit, as it is the most predictable (or at least uninspiring) twist yet.

    But really, ask yourself this: why go out to theaters to see the oven scene you have been bombarded with in YouTube commercials?

    Shyamalan’s sleazy attempt at revitalizing his career with children is not even close to bringing back honor to his reputation. It’s depressing seeing a credited director resorting to children and the found footage genre to create suspense and thriller.

    Perhaps he needs to enter in the world of comedy. The Happening and After Earth have been great to roast with friends.

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