The Visit is M. Night Shyamalan's best movie since Unbreakable, providing audiences with a creepy mood and a constantly unsettling feeling in their stomach as the film's weirdness takes over. It's not full of jump-scares or gore and instead gets by with its clever twists and bizarre performances.
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan returns to the screen with The Visit — a low-key found-footage thriller featuring a cast of fresh faces and a story that doesn’t forget to surprise you every now and then. The Visit isn’t like all of those other recent found-footage horror films. It’s much different, focusing on making you beyond uncomfortable as M. Night Shyamalan‘s weirdly bizarre original story grabs onto you and never lets go.
The Visit follows a pair of kids as they go and meet their grandparents for the very first time. Their mother had a falling out with her parents years ago and haven’t spoken to them since, which makes this visit a first-time for the kids to meet their elders and their mom to get a quick update on her parents after all of these years.
Something bad went down before their mom left, which is hinted at and eventually resolved as The Visit goes from being a simple film about an innocent encounter to a journey into the truly bizarre as the kids notice odd behavior from their grandparents throughout their week-long trip.
M. Night Shyamalan has been on a cold streak over the past decade or so as his film’s have continued to weaken in quality and strength with each new entry. Lately, he’s been focusing more on writing and producing, which hasn’t been as full-blown bad as when he gets behind the camera himself.
Luckily, I’m here to say that The Visit delivers, easily becoming one of his best films yet and becoming a genuinely shocking and deranged little horror film in the process.
The Visit reminds us of the prime Shyamalan days when his name use to sort of mean something special was in store. He was never the most gifted or talented filmmaker, but he was usually able to wrestle out a decent surprise or two mixed among his suspenseful and usually well-crafted films. But then he let that reputation get to him and his film’s took a dip in quality.
The Visit spikes that quality back up a bit, registering not only as a good Shyamalan film, but also just a well-made horror film in general, skipping the simple jump scares for more slow burn tension and weird. Sure, the film has some predictable scares, which come with the found-footage territory, but Shyamalan’s ability to squeeze out ever ounce of terror in broad daylight is impressive and a reminder of his talents behind the lens.
Audiences might be disappointed by the lack of truly terrifying scares, but should be more than pleased with Shyamalan’s efforts at keeping a consistently creepy vibe that keeps the film feeling like something better than it has any right to be.
It starts with his casting of the grandparents and branches out with the film’s script, which takes a few left turns along the way. The ending isn’t exactly an out-of-nowhere twist, but it packages the entire film up rather nicely and leaves you scratching your head and saying, “did that just happen? Did they really just do that?”
Did I mention that The Visit is darkly funny as well? The film’s got many clever moments that boldly balance laughter with an unshakable uncomfortable feeling that will have your nerves jumping.
The Visit is a creepy return to form for a director that we all thought lost his way. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable from start-to-finish, getting by on its clever weirdness, while occasionally downright scaring you. It’s one of the most effective horror films of the year and M. Night Shyamalan‘s best film in over a decade.