The Visit is a found footage horror-comedy starring two unknown child actors, Peter McRobbie (whom you might know from Netflix’s Daredevil as Father Lantom, the priest Matt Murdock would sometimes talk to), Deanna Dunagan (who hasn’t really been the lead in anything, but damn she should be), and Kathryn Hahn (you know Kathryn Hahn).
It’s about two kids who are going to visit their estranged grandparents for the first time ever and then things happen. The trailer made it seem a little confused, like it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, but it had creepy enough imagery to keep me interested.
Everything about The Visit hit; it was scary when it needed to be scary, funny when it meant to be funny, and surprisingly sentimental. This is definitely my favorite horror movie of the summer, or maybe even the year (though I have yet to see Goodnight Mommy and Crimson Peak!).
Whatever may have happened with Shyamalan’s past few films, he is completely back in his element here. His writing is precise (seriously I don’t think there was a single unneeded line in this movie) and his direction and timing are excellent, hitting both the comedic and more horrific notes perfectly.
Some viewers might find this movie too silly, though I’d argue it’s just silly enough. Never once did I find myself thinking something was out of place, which is surprising considering that during the first two thirds of the film, an image (that I am mostly convinced came straight out of my nightmares) is immediately followed by a laugh of some sort.
While on paper this may seem counterintuitive, it helped the jokes hit harder as the comedy was so cleverly juxtaposed with otherwise horrifying imagery. Shyamalan really did an excellent job with this, but it could have completely failed had it not been for the excellent cast.
The film centered on two children, which could have been a toss up between getting a couple of Sixth Sense caliber Haley Joel Osments or some Movie That Shall Not Be Named Nicola Peltzs. Luckily it was closer to the former, with the lead girl Olivia DeJonge making an impressive mainstream debut as Rebecca Jamison.
Her and her brother Tyler, played by Ed Oxenbould, handled the tone extremely well, completely pulling me in and keeping me invested. I didn’t want them to die! When was the last time you saw a horror movie where you weren’t annoyed by the kids? I can’t even remember. You know what I do remember? Being completely freaked out by those seemingly sweet grandparents.
Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan were utterly convincing as Pop-Pop and Nana. Are they insane? Or are they just your standard variety old people? That’s probably the most horrifying concept in this movie. The fact that that line is so blurry is one of our biggest fears as young people.
There’s nothing more terrifying than losing one’s mind. This is almost a guaranteed side effect of getting old, which sucks. How do we combat this? Sure there’s probably some diet we can start, but that’s not a sure thing. You can go from being an independent person, to completely dependent all over again. That fear, mixed with the creepy-as-hell imagery the grandparents help create, helped elevate the scares and the comedy. And all the actors contributed to that wonderfully.
There were also some smaller things I noticed that made me love this movie even more. The found footage aspect is handled in the best way it could have possibly been. I don’t want to say how, not because it’s a spoiler but more because I just loved seeing how well it was executed and I don’t want to deprive other people of that experience. I’ll just say it added an extra layer of believability and also made for some funny jokes that those familiar with filmmaking will appreciate (and probably relate to).
Kathryn Hahn also did a great job in the scenes she was in, playing a believably flawed yet clearly loving mother who is still clinging onto memories of the past. Overall that’s why this movie resonated with me the most. It’s not just another horror-comedy, it has heart. There are multiple scenes in this movie that tugged at my heart strings in a way that didn’t feel forced or awkward, much in the same vain as The Babadook. Which, while overrated at this point, succeeded at making me emotionally invested and overall empathetic to the situation.
The Visit worked in every way. And while it may not click with everyone, it certainly did with me. Thanks for making a great movie, M. Night.
For more articles like this one, go to brainjunkfood.com, a website co-founded by technical director and current TU student Denton Lewis.