Polarizing director, M. Night Shyamalan is back with his latest outing, The Visit as two children are sent to stay with their grandparents as their mother goes away for a few days but they find out things may be a bit stranger than they expected, the film stars Kathryn Hahn, Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan.
Shyamalan definitely doesn’t falter in making an interesting premise and set up (The Happening aside), The Visit starts off decently with a plot going along lines that you’re probably already expecting, an interesting feature with watching a film from a director you’re already familiar with is that you expect the plot to go a certain way an certain things to happen but I found that didn’t worsen my viewing experience.
The intrigue and mystery of a story like this is mostly what makes it interesting so I was engaged in finding out just what exactly was ‘wrong’ and this time around, Shyamalan shapes his story with some humour and a decidedly light tone as the Becca records their experiences at their grandparents house as Becca (Olivia DeJonge) aspires to be a filmmaker. It’s not quite found footage (in the context of the film) but definitely has that aesthetic and I do question the intention of using that aesthetic as it didn’t really add anything to the story, aside giving Beccas aspirations as a filmmaker a visible presence in the film. The tone is a bit here and there, deliberately silly in places with Tylers (Ed Oxenbould) aspirations to become a rapper with his clearly horrible rapping and the grandparents behaviour even early on.
The varying tone was just a bit too jarring for me though, making for uneven viewing in a story with pretty serious subtext peppered with humour. And as things get darker as the plot progresses, I found the more serious moments quite good, especially with things relating to Becca and how she views herself, the writing showed signs of some good elements of character driven drama but unfortunately these moments were far and few between. I watched these moments wishing the story was more serious as the the quirky elements added humour but took away from the drama actually being impactful in the end.
On the whole, the performances are fairly solid, both the child actors feel a bit cliché at points but they bring their own quirks and personality traits to the table, while the grandparents themselves are decent, Deanna Dunagan as Nana stands out albeit in an over the top way. In the end I don’t think any of the performances are particularly stellar, The Visit starts with a basic set up with clear room to take the story in interesting directions but it’s a bit all over the place, a bit creepy, a bit funny and oddly serious near the end compared to the rest of the film and the ending… well it fell a bit flat for me. A return to form Shyamalan? Maybe, it is better than his last 3 films, but really isn’t saying much when you think about it.
. The first half of the film is engaging, nice set up
. Films tone makes for uneven viewing
. Ending is a bit unbelievable