Movie Review: “The Visit” – What Did I Just Watch?

Written by Matt Butler September 25, 2015

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I should preface this review with a confession, this is the first M. Night Shyamalan film I’ve seen in its entirety (I once pressed myself to watch The Last Airbender, but only made it through the first 10 minutes – the pain still lingers). So, while everyone else is busy making comparisons, I’m focusing on the movie as it is.

So what’s The Visit about? A brother and sister are sent to their grandparents’ house for the week, where they come face to face with their reclusive relatives’ disturbed psychoses.

Simple enough. The real question though: What IS The Visit? Is it a horror? Yes… and no. Is it a comedy? Sort of… not really. Is it a thriller? Absolutely… but not particularly. What makes The Visit so intriguing, to me, is that it is all of these genres and none of them. It jumps so feverishly between them that you constantly second guess your assumptions on the intensions behind the movie.

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“You have to laugh to keep the deep darkies in a cave.”

What takes me out of the film though, was a lack of empathy for the main characters. The film is so jumbled in its tones that you aren’t quite sure how to feel about the conflict; you can’t ground yourself in the siblings’ struggle. This is in no disrespect to the kids themselves, they do fine with the material they’re given, but it’s not enough to create any sympathy. Shyamalan focuses so much on making these kids unique -Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) with his exclaiming of pop singers in substitute of swearing, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) with her meticulous attention to cinematography (which I suppose legitimates the HD camera) – that he disregards anything that could make them real, living, breathing characters. Their quirkiness overrides anything that makes them relatable or emotionally compelling. And don’t even get me started on Tyler’s rapping… (He makes MattyBRaps sound butch).

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“Bedtime here is 9:30, it’s probably best you two shouldn’t come out of your room after that.”

Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) are another story. Much like the film itself, these two shift character sporadically. Then again, when you boil it down, the essential explanation is “They’re crazy”, so, really anything is on the table, but without any direction, the mystery of their psychosis gets dull fairly quickly. It’s more a question of what they’ll do next, rather than WHY they do it. Again, they’re just crazy.

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As for the genre dilemma mentioned earlier, I think observing your reaction to the film is a decent determination, at least on a personal level. I see people getting a kick out of The Visit’s occasional diversions into campiness, but I also see some legitimate scares. As for me, it’s a very peculiar type of thriller, where every aspect of the film cancels the other out to such a degree that you can’t help but wonder what will happen next. The film, in this way, becomes its own multi-faceted character.

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“Would you mind getting inside the oven to clean it?”

I don’t know for sure if this will be looked back as M. Night’s return to form, but as its own thing, The Visit does alright for at least being a unique diversion of genre. It’s awkward, clunky, and slow moving at times, but it knows what it can handle, and even throws in a decent twist. If you’re up for a unique experience, visit your theatre… to see The Visit. (sorry, not sorry)

My Rating: 7/10

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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