Directed by M. Night Shyamalan [Other horror films: Signs (2002), The Village (2004), The Happening (2008), Split (2016), Old (2021)]
As disagreeable as some may find my opening statement, here I go: The Visit isn’t that bad a film.
Sure, it’s far from perfect – though one can expect more jump scares in found footage films (it just seems to make sense), this movie was a bit inundated with them to an annoying degree. Typical Hollywood jump scares can be okay in moderate doses, I feel. But when they make up a large portion of the total scares, something’s wrong.
But the film did many things right, as far as I’m concerned. Throughout the first hour of the movie, tension is built decently well between the grandchildren and the grandparents. In particular, the scenes with the oven and Becca (played by Olivia DeJonge) were quite tense, though the first one far more so than the second.
And while we’re on this topic, let’s talk about the grandchildren in the film.
Some reviews claim that the children are annoying and unrealistic, which gets a bit old. Whenever a child acts differently than people expect, it’s always “unrealistic.” Was Tyler (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his proclivity toward rapping annoying? Yes, but guess what – 13 year olds are often annoying. I know I was. In fact, if Tyler wasn’t annoying to some extent, something would be suspect. Did Becca use a more expanded vocabulary than you’d expect from an average 15-year old girl? Indeed, but so do many teenagers. Some teenagers talk just as Becca did in this film. Is it common? Not quite, but claiming that Becca was unrealistic because of her manner of speaking is utterly idiotic.
Why am I harping on this point? The Visit, when all is said and done, is just an average film. But the one thing they got down pat were the grandchildren. They’re performance, save one scene near the end from Oxenbould, was pretty damn good. The relationship between Becca and her brother was portrayed very well; perhaps Tyler was being a tad more dickish than he should have been when grilling Becca about her self-esteem issues, but then again, how many 13-year old boys are oblivious? I know I was. The relationship between them felt real throughout almost the whole film. For that alone, I applaud these two for their performance.
As for the movie itself, the twist, while expected to an extent, wasn’t that bad. But it did feel a wee heavy handed during the reveal. So what we have here is a tense movie for the first two-thirds, and an average horror film for the last thirty. Great acting from the kids, and decent acting from the grandparents. And, let’s not leave this out, some pretty emotional scenes from both Oxenbould and DeJonge. In the end, The Visit is just about average with some really stand-out points. Factors such as the reveal of the twist, along with the final ten minutes or so, bring it down bit, and what could have been an 8 or 8.5 loses points for an almost over-reliance on jump scares and a flawed final act.