M. Night Shyamalan has a lot to make up for, with his last four or five films being considerably less than his best. The Visit is a step in the right direction for him, though it leaves a lot to be desired. Despite an intriguing premise and a lot of creepy visuals, the film falls flat with uninteresting and annoying characters and a predictable twist.
The two leads Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are not great protagonists. While the psychotic grandparents are by no means better, I find it hard to root for a protagonist who thinks he's a rapper, which seems to be Tyler's only character trait. The film's bizarre attempts at humor simply do not mesh with the terrifying tale that M. Night is trying to tell, and because of that The Visit ends up as another horror film that could've been great.
In the end, The Visit does have a few redeeming qualities but there's far too many disgusting moments and weird, uneven dialogue that turns the movie into a caricature of M. Night's own work. It isn't terrible, but it's a far cry from what he is capable of.
M. Night Shyamalan was once touted as being the next new upcoming director to look out for. After three highly successful films, how work took a literal twist for the worst. His films started to quickly become worse and worse, turning him into box office poison. It was starting to get to the point that studios stopped advertising the fact he was attached to the movie. You can imagine my surprise, then, when his recent effort, The Visit, turned into one of his best films in years. It largely makes up for his previous failures and shows that Shyamalan is taking a step in the right direction.
The protagonists are siblings Becca and Tyler, played perfectly by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould. The feel like real life brother and sister and are generally likable throughout the proceedings. While I understand where some people might be turned off by Tyler's rapping, I thought it gave me quality to the character. It reminded me of when we all wanted to be famous in someway, especially in our youth. It also came across expertly as a coping mechanism for a personal tragedy the kids had to endure. Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie did an outstanding job as the grandparents who might not be as nice as they seem. Especially Dunagan, who is a huge reason the film's creepier moments work so well. While The Visit is a straight up horror film with several creepy moments, there is also a sense of humor. Luckily, the humorous parts work and are generally funny.
The Visit is a great return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. It goes back to his early horror roots that made him so famous to begin with, while injecting a solid sense of humor. The protagonists are likable leads and the grandparents are suitably creepy. Even Shyamalan's signature twist works, making the final moments even more tense. I hope this is a sign of things to come from the once acclaimed director.