5 November 2015 | Matt_Layden
Could have done without the rapping.
The big question on people's mind seems to be, is The Visit a return to form for the once promising director, M. Night Shyamalan. The answer is yes and no. While the film is leaps and bounds better than his last 4 previous efforts which include: the dreadful After Earth, the boring Last Airbender, the inane The Happening and the disappointing Lady in the Water, it fails to be anything more than another entry in a long list of horror found footage films. Yes, M. Night Shyamalan has fallen far my friends, so much that just his name on the screen invokes laughter and groans from the audience. He has to fall back and rely on an overused horror genre to bring some sort of credit to his tarnished legacy.
His entry into the found footage genre is The Visit. What Jaws did for the water, The Visit might do for old people. When a mother of two young kids is contacted by her estranged parents, asking to finally see their grandkids, she decides to let her kids go live with their grandparents for the week, while she goes away on vacation. The kids are so excited that the film loving daughter decides to make a documentary about it. Bringing her trusted camera along for the ride, she captures some odd footage from her grandparents and weirder and weirder things start happening after 9:30. So we have to ask ourselves, what's wrong with NaNa and Pop Pop???
The one thing this film does right is something that Shyamalan seems to do well or at least use to, is create a terrific atmosphere. The old home has just enough corners here and there to raise the tension, to make us as ourselves, "What's behind the corner over there?" Having the film be a found footage picture, gives Shyamalan more control over the camera. He can choose what to reveal and when is trickier ways which put the characters in a bit more danger. One terrific sequence where Shyamalan is really at his best is when the kids decide to play Hide and Seek under the house. You expect the unexpected and Shyamalan delivers probably the best scene he's done in years.
The grandparents are excellent; they convey just the right amount of oddness and sympathy. Each scene that they have alone with the kids is when they try to explain away the weirdness of the other. NaNa describes why Pop Pop does the things he does and vice versa. It was an interesting dynamic between the characters that immediately tells you that they are hiding something. Unfortunately, the same can't really be said about the children. Two unbelievable kids, which means I did not believe anything they did was genuine. Whether it is rapping, yes the kid raps a lot, or the cinematic dialogue the girl uses. Nothing they said or did ring true to me, which took me out of the experience.
The Visit is creepy enough to warrant a watch for those that love the found footage films. It's shot in a way that doesn't lead to vertigo or nausea. You finally have a film where you get to see everything that happens on the screen, which was a nice change of pace. Shyamalan might not be back in the good graces of people, but The Visit is a decent start.