‘The Visit’ Leaves Quality Writing at the Door

Photo courtesy of BollywoodHungamawikimedia, Flickr Creative Commons

Director M. Night Shyamalan has presented the box office with yet another mainstream thriller movie, “The Visit.” Rooted in the difficult family situation of a single mother and her two children, the film follows young Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) and his older sister Becca (Olivia DeJonge) on their inaugural visit with their grandparents, who have not spoken to the children’s mother in 15 years.

The children carry around video cameras and document every moment of their weeklong excursion. While justifiable at first, the grandparents' behavior begins to become increasingly bizarre. The grandmother lurks and scurries in the hallways at night, and the grandfather is often found suspiciously roaming in and out of the shed.

The house gets several visits from locals inquiring about the couple’s whereabouts for scheduled volunteer work, but finds them “coincidentally” out for a daily walk. The children capture the grandmother on tape with a knife roaming up and down the hallways and scratching on their door one evening. These events prompt Becca and Tyler to take action and try to escape.

With thriller films in peak season, this film failed to leave a significant impact. “The Visit” utilized a previously effective documentary style of cinematography, but lacked the candid aesthetic. Despite a predictable storyline and mediocre writing, the film did have some very funny moments, where the intended scary portions were comical due to the sheer nature of their corniness.

Shyamalan chose an unfamiliar cast and paired it with a stripped down plot, in contrast to the complexity of his previous films. The mixture of a serious plot concerning family issues and the silly actions of the characters resulted in a confused product. Some of the jump scares were timely and brought viewers to the edges of their seats, but otherwise, this film is not one of Shyamalan’s best. Whether its intention was to be funny or not, it did not hold audience interest. It’s a good movie to go see on a date or with a few friends, if nothing else seems interesting.