Rebecca and her brother Tyler go to spend a week with grandparents they have never met at their farm home. It isn’t long until questions are raised. What is grandpa keeping in the barn? Why aren’t they allowed to go down into the basement? And most importantly, what happens after 9.30 at night?
It’s Shyamalan’s subtlety that works best when dealing with moments of terror. Like a child looking for his dad’s gun while the back of his head is missing, he’s not afraid to show you that danger lies in wait because he wants you to anticipate what’s coming next, and that what’s coming next is much worse.
They are those that may take issue with how mental illness is represented in this movie. The grandmother in particular, while giving an unnerving performance, portrays them as demonic and at one point extraterrestrial even. The film resolves their threat by having the villains stabbed and beaten to death. An eyebrow-raiser perhaps, but this is horror and these are killed or be killed situations.
I do have to hand one thing to Shyamalan though. From The Sixth Sense (1999) to Signs (2002), from Lady in the Water (2006) to The Happening (2008), the possibilities behind the grandparent’s strange behaviour seemed boundless. The film’s slasher-like twist was a sneaky yet sobering touch.
The greatest horror of all came in the form of a child MC… Why did there have to be a child MC? Bless their talented little souls, but good god there is nothing more annoying than this kid, Tyler and his horrific rhymes. The end credits had one last rap lying in wait for me. I literally screamed as I reached for the remote to press Stop.
The Visit has most of the ingredients needed to make a thoroughly creepy movie – the grandmother certainly leaves an impression – but some of the plot-holes are not just plot-holes, they are craters. Like any Shyamalan film your suspension of disbelief needs bungee cables, otherwise you throw your hands up in defeat and just go with it.
After 14 years is the writer/director finally back on form? Considering his last three features I have to say, “Yeah, more or less…”
3 / 5
Dir: M. Night Shyamalan
Scr: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie
Prd: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, M. Night Shyamalan
DOP: Maryse Alberti
Run time: 93 mins
The Visit is available on DVD now.