The Visit was touted to be M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback movie. After duds like After Earth, The Last Airbender and Lady in the Water, Shyamalan was somewhat written off by Hollywood. The problem is that the bar has been set extremely high with The Sixth Sense, that nothing else came up to par (although I loved Unbreakable, Signs and The Village!)
The Visit centers around two children, Becca and Tyler, who are sent off to spend a week with their grandparents. Becca is an avid film maker and so decides to document her trip on camera, mainly to sort out the difference between her mom and her grandmother. The mother, Paula, goes off on a cruise with her new boyfriend. We learn that Paula left her parents at the age of 19, an incident which she refuses to speak of.
The trip over to the grandparents is very typical: excited kids on a train documenting everything on camera. Once they get there, there is some slight awkwardness as the grandparents, Nana and Pop Pop, are acquainted with the children. Their first night in, Pop Pop comes in the children’s bedroom and tells them that they all sleep early and so the children are not to leave their rooms after 930pm.
Over the next few days, Becca and Tyler witness weird behavior from their grandparents (Nana scratching the walls, Pop Pop gathering soiled adult diapers) and they seek to talk to them. The grandparents explain to the children that it’s merely old age which is making them act a little odd.
I won’t spoil the film for you because I think it has to be seen to really get into it. In my opinion, I think Shyamalan has come back to his form and has set up a credible and a genuinely creepy film. There are definitely moments which makes you cringe in fear (watch how Nana asks her grand-daughter to clean the oven, all the way inside!). There is indeed a twist, and while it may not be on the scale of The Sixth Sense, it is nonetheless a twist one cannot see coming from afar.
In particular, I will say that I enjoyed the transformation of Becca and Tyler, who have their own deep fears which they confront. It’s been handled very deftly and smartly.
There are shades of inspiration from other films and Shyamalan makes effective use of the huge block letters announcing the day of the week, as each day notches up further tension and dread.
Many may not enjoy the movie, for the inevitable comparison factor sets in. Having said that, do go watch The Visit for a genuinely scary night out.
4 out of 5