The Visit – Movie Review
The Visit – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 11 Sep 2015
The Visit was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, a troubled director who has had a hard time finding success since his breakout hit The Sixth Sense. Thankfully, The Visit is very good and does a fantastic job of working within the restrictions of a “found footage” style without falling into the worst tropes of the genre.
A mother (Kathryn Hahn) grudgingly sends her children Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) to visit her estranged parents for a week. The grandparents have not forgiven the mother for some mysterious event that occurred when she left home at 19 to be with the children’s father. As the grandparents begin to act more and more strangely, the kids try to figure out if they are in danger or if they’re strange behavior can be attributed to some legitimate senior ailments the grandparents tell them they have.
I can’t share much more of the plot without giving too much away, and this is a movie that deserves to be seen unspoiled. It’s certainly more satisfying to figure out what’s happening based on the clues built into the story than to read them online.
What I can talk about is the great film-making on display. The conceit of the found footage style is that Becca is shooting the footage for a documentary she’s working on with the agenda of trying to heal the rift between her mother and grandparents. She has nice enough cameras to let us believe that the visuals are authentic and not the “inexplicably amazing cell phone” footage other movies try to get away with. There are also hidden issues for each of the kids that manifest about halfway through the movie, and the symbolism and secondary arcs of their characters go beyond simply surviving the events of the movie.
The cast is great. Both of the children have well-realized personalities and their performance is central to the film. The grandparents, played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie are equal parts creepy and aloof. Kathryn Hahn is brilliant in a limited but powerful role as the mother, delivering some of the most cathartic moments in the movie.
I’m truly impressed by The Visit. It can be slow at times, but this feels more deliberate than anything and usually just leads to scenes feeling more tense than a faster editing style would allow. The lack of the usual audio punctuation added to scares is also much appreciated. Everything in the sound track is believably something that the camera picked up, keeping the footage feeling authentic and more tense for how real it is.
Aaron, Cal and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: