The Visit (2015) represented a return to shape for M. Night Shyamalan who, after a series of missteps (above all, After Earth with Will Smith and son in 2013), had seen a drop in the interest of critics and audiences for his works. Personally, I am quite pleased that this return to a quality production coincides with a small low-budget project, a thriller / horror with a clear idea developed without getting lost in supposedly profound existentialist chit-chat. The Visit is a so-called found footage movie, that is supposed to be entirely shot by the protagonists of the film itself (like 2007’s [Rec] by Balagueró and Plaza). It’s not easy to sustain the found footage trick for the entire duration of the film, but Shyamalan here in my opinion succeeds in doing so thanks to the good script and the solid idea behind the film. What’s the plot?
Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are the sons of a single mother (Kathryn Hahn) who years before left home in a rather traumatic way and hasn’t heard from her parents since. After all these years, however, she allows her children to go to their grandparents for a week, something that both Becca and Tyler wanted to do, while she goes on a cruise. Becca, an aspiring director, decides to shoot a documentary about this experience and here’s your credible excuse to make a found footage movie!
After a train journey in which we discover Tyler’s passion for music (and rap in particular), for the first time in their life the two kids meet their grandparents, played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie. The lovely couple welcomes Becca and Tyler with open arms and initially things seem to work great. But then, little by little, things go wrong in the house, especially because at night the grandmother behaves in a strange way… And let me stop here, there are no spoilers in this review!
If you accept the premise of a mother who sends her children away for a week to stay with the grandparents they’ve never seen and never talked to, then the film will work for you. If instead you find the thing absurd and not credible, it’s possible that the plot won’t work for you. Personally, I believe that things work in this movie thanks to a simple story and a good script by Shyamalan (even if the mother is not very prudent, let’s say). Many have found the plot twist (yes, there’s a plot twist) predictable, but, even if this were the case, I don’t see how this should diminish the quality of the film.
For me, The Visit is a good low-budget thriller, a great example of found footage movie (this sub-genre only offers a handful of good movies: the aforementioned [Rec], 2007’s Diary of the Dead by George Romero and little else), and it’s also an opportunity to welcome back a director who had perhaps lost his way but came back with this small good movie without any (supposedly) profound messages or themes. Dear M. Night, maybe sooner or later I’ll be able to finish watching the trilogy that started with Unbreakable (2000), that I liked, and continued with Split (2016) and Glass (2019) that I haven’t seen yet! Ciao!