Title: The Visit

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deana Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Katheryn Hahn

The Visit may be better than The Last Airbender, After Earth and Lady in the Water but it is by no means a return to form in the likes of The Sixth Sense, Signs and Unbreakable. The Blumhouse produced horror feature reinvigorates Shyamalan’s sense of suspense in an interesting premise but detracts from it by putting it in the found footage box.

When teen siblings Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler(Ed Oxenbould) encourage their mom (Katheryn Hahn) to go off on a cruise, they embark on a trip to visit her estranged parents. It also just so happens that Becca is an aspiring filmmaker who decides to create a film about finding out what happened the night her mom left home with her now absentee father. Along with her brother, the kids begin to interview Nana (Deana Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) to find out more about them and exactly what went down in their small town for their mom to leave.

It starts off in the beginning a bit all over the place to establish that this is a kid is making a movie. There are scenes where the siblings lollygag to show that Becca is the artistic type who speaks in director exposition voice and Tyler is the funny younger one who knows all the teen lingo. This is the first blaring problem, these kids don’t talk like kids. Becca feels like a voice for the actual director and Tyler is written how an adult thinks a teen sounds like. His character’s incorrect use of the word ‘shade’ and other lingo did not help to make him seem more like one. This isn’t the actors faults, in fact both Oxenbould and DeJonge do the best they can with the characters in good performances undermined by bad dialogue. It’s really just the script. The awkwardness of the writing is played up with the nuanced performances of Dunagan and McRobbie as the grandparents who set the tone of eerie creepiness that manages to keep you interested.

The plot of the film pretty much depends on the unsettling and crazy behavior the grandparents exhibit at night and when the kids begin to investigate why they act that way. During Skype calls their mom can’t give them an answer and as they become more and more isolated, the siblings begin to suspect that they might be in danger.

What’s interesting to note is that while the grandparents become increasingly aggressive, the crazier the speculations about the twist becomes. Is it aliens? Is it a cult? It’s a clever red herring using a reputation to throw off the audience and was pretty effective when the reveal actually happens. The last act will have you totally in suspense with its original thriller turn. Overall, The Visit is a solid concept with great performances that suffered from the tired found footage format and poor dialogue.

Technical: C-

Acting: A

Story: B-

Overall: C


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