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Movie Review: The Visit (Spoiler Free)

Updated on February 6, 2016

Spoiler Free

I tend not to do spoilers in my reviews. I know it's a M. Night Shyamalan film so that means there is most likely a twist, but I will not be discussing it.

I will say the trailers did cause me to believe that it would be a supernatural horror, but if you have a problem with such elements, there are none in this film. That's all I will say. There are no demons, devils, ghosts, or other unsettling thingamabobs in this film.

Film poster for The Visit
Film poster for The Visit | Source

Initial Impression

It's a M. Night Shyamalan film! It's gotta be bad, right? Not at all. It's been a long time since I've left a theater with my breath a little ragged and spent; this film achieved that. I had heard good things about it as a work of Shyamalan, but his most recent track record meant a somewhat adequate film would have been unexpected. Still, while a few things bothered me and I gagged once or twice (unfortunately), this film was actually quite fantastic.

The Plot and Synopsis

The mother of two kids ran away from home roughly 15 years ago. Flash forward today, her parents contact her and really want to meet their grandkids. The kids go and meet them and everything is pretty tranquil at night at first, but then things start getting weird. Grandma is irregular at night, Grandpa is hiding things in the shed, and things that start off as strange become more unnerving and even dangerous (and gross once or twice).

It's good. There aren't a lot of films about terrifying grandparents but this film is quite unique. You will laugh at some mannerisms (and Shyamalan does a fantastic job allowing a scene dramatic build up to occasionally top it off with a strong burst of humor), you will instantly realize when dread is building as you yourself will be caught along with the atmosphere. I was impressed by the softer emotional aspirations of the film as well, feeling genuinely sorry as the plot was carried on. If you're looking for a new thriller, you really should check this out, despite Shyamalan's poorly received name.

Cleaning in the kitchen
Cleaning in the kitchen | Source

Casting and Performance

Deanna Dunagan steals the show (she's the grandmother character). She's hilarious, creepy, unnerving, and surprising. Your emotions will change while watching her as the film progresses, going from curious to amused to frightened and terrified. Her counterpart, played by Peter McRobbie, delivers a fantastic job as well in unsettling the audience and playing his part.

As for the kids, they do an admirable job. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould play the sister and brother respectively as the protagonists. The audience is treated through the cameras they carry with them, explained by the girl working to be a film director. The boy is annoying at times (especially when he's rapping) but this is overshadowed by his humorous little quirks.

In my honest opinion, the film definitely has an emotional side to it and the kids carry this along expertly. It was impressive.

It's a Twist!

No, I'm not going to spoil the twist.

Everyone who is familiar with M. Night Shyamalan knows of his fondness for twists. Signs, The Village, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Lady in the Water, his produced Wayward Pines, (and surprisingly absent in The Happening) and among others. So, yes, as you might imagine, his trademark style is here in this film as well.

Twists in horror films largely accelerate the pacing into overdrive, making the film use its adrenaline, as it were. This was noticeably subverted in The Village when the twist causes the film to almost lose all of its drive (although many, myself included, claim it's more of a misunderstood film than a disaster). However, there is no such issue with the twist in this film. The pacing accelerates a thousandfold right to the ending.

From the eye of a camera to the reflection of the mirror
From the eye of a camera to the reflection of the mirror | Source

The Fecal Matter

I liked a of things about this film, but there's something I simply just couldn't stand. When I watched this, I was eating my dinner at a Movie Tavern when the film suddenly decides to get disgusting. There are two major scenes but they were enough to cause me to look away and my stomach to turn. It's gross, although I admittedly have a weaker stomach to those kinds of things. While the rest of the film is truly excellent in my opinion, I wouldn't dare recommend this film to anyone who has a low tolerance to 'body fluid horror' similar to me.

In the end, I understand why they included it, but for the life of me I wonder why they couldn't skip over it. The film would have been perfectly fine without such material.

Rated PG-13

There's some profanity, as well as some naked butts. Still, the most offensive bits revolve around acts of violence and the suggestion of violence and some fecal matter horror/gags. Do not go to a theater and eat while watching this film. I swear, you'll regret it if you do.

Closing Thoughts

I really, really liked this film. As I said in the beginning, I was a little out of breath when leaving. The performances were fantastic, the scenes and dramatic build-up was gripping, and it was everything a horror-thriller film should be. In two words, it was a wonderful experience.

Still, the disgusting side of the horror was close to being too much for me. In a lesser film, I wouldn't stand for it. Other people might also be offended by the portrayal of the elderly as the film doesn't shy away from using both mental and physical aspects of older individuals as part of its 'scare tactics.' Still, if no film was allowed to use imperfections from a specific group, there would be much fewer resources used in your everyday horror-thrillers.

Either way, if you're a horror/thriller movie buff, you'll want to see this film. If you like Shyamalan's original form, you'll like this film. If you're bored and not against anything I've mentioned as a warning sign thus far, you should probably see this film. I'd even go as far to recommend seeing it in theaters. It's worth it. Just, don't go right after eating.

Pop Pop cleaning his shotgun
Pop Pop cleaning his shotgun | Source

Tl;dr

  • A rare return to form for M. Night Shyamalan
  • Equal parts thriller, humor, terrifying, and disgusting
  • Slightly slow at the beginning, but remains fast paced and continues gaining momentum as Shyamalan is known to do in his prime
  • Deanna Dunagan is fantastic and terrifying

Do you plan on seeing this film?

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More Movie Reviews

Enjoyed this film review? I covered a large number of films I saw during the summer and plan to do more during this fall season. After I've seen a few of the more Fall-released films, I plan on creating another list similar to my summer rendition.

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    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Yes, Travis, I did go last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.

      But I have to admit that, although you advised me against doing so, I had a really enjoyable pasta with sugo Bolognese before I left, and feeling a little hungry before the film started, my partner and I shared a bag of McDonalds chips (fries).

      My stomach responded just a little - Hmmm!

    • Travis W Wood profile image
      Author

      Travis Wood 2 years ago from Woodstock, Georgia

      @Twilight Lawns

      I hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 2 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Thanks for an excellent review. I had planned on seeing the film tonight.

      I like M Night Shyamalan and am looking forward to this enormously.

      Unfortunately, we will be leaving just after dinner. Hmmm!

      Thanks for the warning.

    • Travis W Wood profile image
      Author

      Travis Wood 2 years ago from Woodstock, Georgia

      Thanks, Judy! I felt a little self-conscious too, although it is a horror flick. Often times things need to be stretched out from believability to make entertainment. Still, it was slightly awkward.

    • JudyWestcott profile image

      Judy Westcott 2 years ago from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

      Great review! I saw this movie and while I'm not a big horror movie fan, I went to see this one because it promised to be a comedy/horror. I laughed a lot and loved the thrills. However, the more I thought about it afterwards, I felt a guilty about agism (laughing at the elderly) and for making fun of someone with mental health issues.