The Visit, directed by M. Night Shyamalan is perhaps the funniest unintentional comedy of the year — while the film is a horror at its core, some of the scenes are so ridiculous that it becomes hard not to laugh. Weirdly though this doesn’t stop The Visit from being an enjoyable watch. In fact this is perhaps one of Shyamalan most fun to watch films in quite some time even with it being a found footage type film.
The story in The Visit revolves around two children, Becca, played by Olivia Dejonge and Tyler, played by Ed Oxenbould who for the first time in their lives will be meeting and spending the week with their grandparents, Nana, played by Deanna Dunagan, and Pop Pop, played by Peter Mcrobbie. As expected things aren’t normal — both grandparents have their own weird little quirks, quirks that soon turn into frighteningly dangerous actions/situations.
So the last time I saw a Shyamalan film in the cinema was when ‘Signs’ was released, since then I’ve seen the rest of his works on either TV or DVD. It’s not a secret that Shyamalan’ most recent works have been bad, at times unwatchable, so you can imagine my surprise when I came out of The Visit with a smile on my face and the thought of how much I enjoyed my time with the film. Now The Visit isn’t without problems, I mean the film is still filled with Shyamalan-esque problems, but this is perhaps his most cohesive film in a long time.
So as I pointed out earlier, The Visit is a found footage type film and usually I’m turned off by these films (there are a myriad of reasons why I don’t like found footage, but I won’t bore you with that) but what came as a surprise to me was that in this film it actually works in favour of the film. For context, one of the main characters in the film, Becca is an inspiring film maker and so decides to turn her visit to her grandparents’ house into a documentary. This idea is set up from the very beginning and thankfully the film never really breaks its rules. The way in which the camera is held or set up in shots doesn’t feel counterintuitive to the style of film, and there isn’t the use of anything that wouldn’t be possible for an amateur filmmaker to insert into their film. Shockingly Shyamalan seems to have a good understanding of how to do a found footage style film and makes it work consistently and sensibly.
What else Shyamalan seemed to get right this time was his simple and engaging story. I was genuinely interested to see these children go on their adventure to meet their grandparents for the first time, and when the unsettling (yet a little funny) antics of Nana and Pop Pop begin, I was intrigued to follow the children’s journey through the hilarious madness. Both the young actors and the older ones deliver some great performances, in particular actress Deanna Dunagan, who plays Nana in the film was a disturbingly fun character to watch. Her transformation from sweet old gran who makes cookies, to a crazed knife wielding monster is simply enjoyable to watch.
Now despite how much fun I had watching the film, there are a couple of issues that linger with me. The Visit is a tonal mess and I’m also not sure if Shyamalan is some sort of master troller and is at this point messing with the audience. The tonal problems first — The Visit jumps so frantically between comedy and unsettling horror that it does become a little confusing. There were scenes in the film where the entire audience was laughing and then there were moments where there was audible shock at what had just happened. Now what adds even more confusion to this is that some of the moments where people were laughing don’t seem like they were supposed to be funny, but what we were seeing was just so ridiculous that the only thing you could do was laugh. A crazed old lady wandering around the house vomiting everywhere isn’t something I would have thought I’d be laughing at, but my god was it funny. It all makes me think that Shyamalan is now completely aware of what audiences expect from him and is giving it to them but in his own weird little way.
The Visit is also hampered by some very slow pacing at the beginning and a noticeably predictable structure from the outset. The film takes a while to get going — the first act of the film is laden with tedious expository dialogue and some very obvious set up for pay offs coming later in the film. Also the film follows a very strict structure for the first two acts, a structure that once you understand; it ends up taking away the scares and tension in it. During day time Nana and Pop Pop act reasonably normal and the two children go back and forth on the oddities of night time, then night time rolls around and things get crazy. It’s at this point that you play the game of, “Am I about to be scared or am I going to laugh my ass off?” Though both of these trip the film up, they don’t stop it from still offering up some fun times.
I didn’t expect to like The Visit as much as I did, but when I left that cinema all me and my friends could do was talk about all the memorable/disturbing scenes and then compare them to some of the most bizarre/funny scenes that it had to offer. The Visit is certainly a film to go see with a group of friends, you will all have such a fun time together.
I am at great surprise to me recommending M. Night Shyamalan’ The Visit. It’s fun it’s strange and in the end is one of his best films in quite some time. Memorable is the perfect word to describe this film.
So what do you think of M. Night Shyamalan’ work, why not let me know in the comments down below? If you want to keep up with the rest of my reviews, follow me on Twitter, @GavinsTurtle. Last but not least enjoy the rest of your week.