Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Visit (2015): Review (spoiler free)

The Visit is a 2015 found footage horror film. Directed by M Night Shyamalan (The sixth Sense, The Village) and starring newcomers Olivia Dejonge and Ed Oxenbould. This is Shyamalan's first straight horror film since 2004's The Village.

The found footage in question is a documentary being made by Becca (Dejonge) and her younger brother Tyler (Oxenbould) and is based around them meeting their Grandparents for the first time. This belated meeting is due to their mother having fallen out with her parents many years previous and also becomes the topic of the documentary. However, Nana and Pop Pop soon prove to be quite the eccentric geriatrics and, what begins as your run of the mill incontinence and forgetfulness, soon develops into much more disturbing behaviour.

The Visit has been described as a return to form for Shyamalan and this is true on many levels. Firstly, the film represents a thoroughly back to basics approach, not just for the director but for horror in general, and is a found footage film crafted from the tried and tested Paranormal Activity (2007) formula. There is also a very well judged balance between playful comedic banter from the siblings and genuinely unsettling performances from the Grandparents and the incorporation of "Sundowning" (a genuine form of dementia) was as fascinating as it was gripping.

Secondly, the film marks a welcome return to Shyamalan's real talent of weaving a strong emotional core into his horror and, like The Sixth Sense (1998) before it, The Visit is really a film about childhood growing pains and absent parents. Indeed, I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat during the scenes where the children let down their guard and show exactly what kind of effect their father walking out has had on them. The way this is mirrored by their mother's own issues with her parents was really touching and represents the kind of sincerity that a lot of people wouldn't associate with Shyamalan these days.

I don't feel it's a spoiler to mention that, of course, the movie has a twist in it's final act and, let's be honest, you'd be a lot more surprised if an M Night Shyamalan film didn't have a twist. What might surprise you though, is the restraint that he seems to have applied this time around and, although it's still a great twist that I didn't see coming, it's not a feature that the entire movie hinges on. The Visit is one of the finest horror films of the year with more heart than anyone would've expected and has to rank near the very top of Shyamalan's entire output...maybe don't watch it with your Grandparents though.

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of The Visit? How do you rank it amongst Shyamalan's other films?


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