Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Running time: 94 mins
Release date: September 9th
There are those among us who have been patiently waiting for M. Night Shyamalan’s big comeback. The filmmaker who brought us The Sixth Sense and the greatest superhero origin story ever put on screen in the form of Unbreakable is surely due a return to form after a disastrous decade of flop after flop. The Visit, alas, is not it. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould are kids who go to spend the week with their estranged grandparents, only to find that they’re a couple of complete creeps. It advertises itself as a horror movie, but the only thing scary about it is seeing how far this once-great filmmaker has fallen.
Never able to resist meta-commentary, Shyamalan has DeJonge’s Becca as an aspiring documentarian whose desire to make a great film presumably reflects the director’s own. As soon as the film starts, however, your heart sinks as you realise it’s another piece of shaky-cam ‘found footage’ rubbish to add to the ever-growing heap. It feels like Shyamalan is copying the trend to stay relevant, but it’s not working. The first hour is a borefest, punctuated by the kind of cheap jumpscares that this director built a career on avoiding. Oxenbould – so charming in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – does his best but is forced to do some cringeworthy ‘rapping’, just another aspect of the film’s so-called humour that never lands.
Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie make efforts to sell their ‘weirdo grandparent’ roles, but what’s meant to be scary is just clumsily funny, while managing to simultaneously demonise the elderly and the mentally ill. Obviously unable to resist including the Shyamalan Twist™, it does have a decent secret which, in a change of pace, comes at the start of the third act rather than the end. This serves to ratchet the tension up a bit, but it’s dissolved by the moments of awkward, seemingly unintentional humour that has become Shyamalan’s biggest problem. Ultimately The Visit tries to force a message of forgiving the transgressions of family before it’s too late, but it feels tacked on, as though it is trying to justify its own existence and failing miserably. Do yourself a favour and spend 94 minutes with your own family instead of watching this nonsense.