Monday, May 2, 2016

Film Review: The Visit (2015)

The Visit (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a simple found footage horror film with original characters, unnerving suspense, creepy visuals, and a few effective jump scares."

Teenagers Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) visit their grandparents, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), for a week. All is well until their grandparents begin acting erratically...

The Visit is a fairly simple found footage horror film. The film follows Becca and Tyler – 15 and 13 years old, respectively – as they visit their grandparents for a week. On their trip, Becca is shooting a documentary about her family. She intends on using the documentary to give her mother closure for an incident that occurred decades ago. There are a few strange rules and mannerisms, such as the 9:30 bedtime, but it is nothing significantly different. Well, not right off the bat. Becca and Tyler soon find themselves tormented by their grandparents' strange behavior, like being chased in crawlspace by Nana or finding where their Pop Pop hides his diapers. I was a bit disappointed by the ending – mostly because I predicted it while joking. (You know how it is, right? You pop in an M. Night Shyamalan movie and you predict an ending for the sake of it.) It wasn't a bad ending, though. It was good, leaving little to be desired.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Visit. I'm the type of moviegoer that can enjoy anything – remakes, b-movies, indies, etc. – but I'm always wary of found footage movies. Fortunately, this one was good. I wasn't a big fan of the characters. I just didn't find them very believable or enjoyable, but there was a certain depth that I appreciated. These weren't just cutouts from other movies, which is refreshing. Couple the focus on character with the effective horror and you've got yourself a great horror movie. In terms of horror, this film is focused a bit more on suspense than the usual found footage outing. There are also some genuinely creepy scenes in here. The scene in the crawlspace, for example, was fantastic. Perhaps it was because I went into this film without any preparation, but it left me impressed and even frightened at times. There's also a bit of humor in here. It can miss at times, but it got me to chuckle often.

The acting was great, too. Yes, I didn't like the characters, but, like I said, I appreciated them. And, I appreciate the great performances. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould perform well as the terrified siblings. Deanna Dunagan really steals the show with a very versatile performance. Peter McRobbie is also great as Pop Pop, especially towards the end. The found footage camerawork was tolerable this time around. There wasn't much of a shaky cam, especially since there wasn't the obligatory "run while shooting your feet and swinging the camera" scene. The film is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan ditches the more 'experimental' films that recently plagued his filmography and he instead opts for a traditional horror film. Fortunately, Shyamalan knows how to craft horror through pure suspense and creepy imagery. A great return to form.

Overall, The Visit is a great horror film. It doesn't have the great finesse of The Sixth Sense, but it is much better than most of Shyamalan's recent outings. It's a simple found footage horror film with original characters, unnerving suspense, creepy visuals, and a few effective jump scares. In other words, it's a great little horror film to kill 90 minutes. I recommend it for any fans of the genre.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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