“The Visit” Lacks Horror, But Presents Solid Acting

This article is from Tiger Newspaper’s September 2015 issue

By Nick Michael & Noah Miyame

Tiger Staff

3/5 Stars

M. Night Shyamalan has had one of the most varied careers of any notable director today. From classics such as The Sixth Sense to disaster films like After Earth, he’s been credited with it all. His newest film, The Visit, was heavily advertised on the internet, leading to high anticipation from people around the country. And, to the surprise of many, the film doesn’t disappoint.

The Visit tells the story of two siblings, Becca (Olivia Dejonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), who visit their estranged grandparents for the first time. In the beginning, the grandparents seem normal, but soon the kids start to notice peculiarities around the house.

Becca, an aspiring documentarian, turns a blind eye at first, but Tyler is convinced that something is wrong with their “Na-Na” and “Pop-Pop.” Eventually, after days of suspicious behavior, the two agree that their grandparents have a problem and decide to investigate further.

From the beginning, the film is aesthetically pleasing. It is well-shot, and organized in a stylistic manner. Often, there are bare images of the surrounding environment help to construct the film’s eerie ambiance. On top of that, the found-footage style contributes to the horror aspect of the film. These establishing shots and the overall presentation showcase Shyamalan’s directing talent.

Another great aspect of the film was the strong performance given by the grandmother (Deanna Dunagan). Dunagan’s role as a psychotic old lady provides an amusing balance of horror and comedy. The children also gave solid performances, with Dejonge playing the leader of the siblings, and Oxenbould offering moments of comic relief.

However, one fault of the movie is that it doesn’t entirely fit into the horror genre. Unlike true horror films, The Visit lacks especially scary scenes. Shyamalan does a solid job of building suspense throughout the film, but only a few times does he actually cash in on that suspense. For the majority of the movie, cheesy jokes ruin the feeling of tension that was developed so well. Moviegoers looking to be thoroughly spooked will want to consider a different film.

The Visit has its ups and downs, but is ultimately a fun experience. Fans who expect to experience a true horror movie will most likely be disappointed, but others will enjoy it thoroughly. At the very least, the strong acting makes the film worth the visit.