By Darin Skaggs
For the last ten years or so M. Night Shyamalan has been making mediocre to worse films. So much so when he had a film coming out, advertisement would not mention that he directed it. When it was announced his next project would be a found footage horror film I thought exactly what I thought with his last few works, nothing. With much surprise and delight his new movie, The Visit is comical, creepy, a creative piece of work.
Becca (Olivia DeJonge), a fifteen year old inspiring documentary filmmaker, is joined by her brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) to visit their grandparents Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time. This all due to the fact that their mother ran away when she was nineteen years old and has not seen her parents since that very day. They finally make contact with her and want to see their grandchildren and so they visit for a family fueled packed weekend as the mother goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. After a few nights there the kids realize that something strange is up.
Now some people have, and will, call this a return to form for Shyamalan but it is not. This whole film seems like a new direction for him and a lot different from his other work. He seemed to take his movies very seriously, almost angrier at the fact critics didn’t like his films. He needed his movies to be important and most of all, the ending with the big twist needed to matter. Not in this movie though, this movie is weird and silly. Several scenes prove this with multiple sequences of Tyler confidently free style rapping, very poorly and very amusingly or very terrifying scenes that turn into big laughs like the crazy chase scene under the house or that Yahtzee game.
This movie is like Shyamalan’s in some ways, there is a twist near the end. You might see it coming or you might not, but like I said the movie does not take itself too seriously so the twist just adds to the comedy and creepiness. The whole piece finds the perfect balance of humor and terror. And when the twist does arrive the movie goes off the rails and becomes incredibly wacky. Now none of these really funny scenes ever take away from the horror aspect of this film. This film is very scary and very tense. The grandmother spends nights in a sleep walk that makes her seem she is possessed by an evil force and the grandfather shows hints of a psychopathic, paranoid murderer.
Forget that some of the found footage that Becca is shooting for a “make it up to mom” doc doesn’t make any sense. The movie does not care about that, it cares more to scare you and let you have a good time. Shyamalan might not be back, but he has made a really great film that works on so many levels.