Is there anything scarier than visiting your grandparent’s house? Well, maybe, unless you’re the main characters in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit, Becca and Tyler. These two siblings visit their estranged grandparents expecting some bland family bonding time, but instead get a psychotic grandma and a schizophrenic grandpa.
This movie was a blend of comedy, family drama, jumpscares, and a few actual scary moments. That is to say, it was entertaining, but not as scary as horror movies usually are (or at least try to be).
The Visit got a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics having widely varying opinions; some say it will be the highlight of Shyamalan’s career (The New York Times gave a rave review) while others say it will be the death of his career, with The Guardian saying Shyamalan’s name “became synonymous with disaster.”
The film hinges on the fact that the grandma has a mental illness that makes her act crazy at night, around 9:30– the characters compare her symptoms to someone merely talking in their sleep. Becca and Tyler try to ignore the strangeness at first, including things like Grandma projectile vomiting and clawing on their door at night, but when things go downhill, they have to take action.
One major disappointment with this movie was that the best scene in the trailer, when the grandma asks Becca to get inside the oven to clean it, was different in the movie. It seemed like something exciting was about to happen. The mood was eerie and tense, the timing was just right for a jumpscare, the grandma delivered her line, conjuring the image of the witch from that fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, and… nothing happened. The girl got out fine a second later, and it didn’t lead to anything. What a waste of a moment.
There also seemed to be a few underdeveloped plot points in the movie. It is brought up that Tyler, the little brother, has developed OCD tendencies as a result of their dad leaving, but this is not mentioned again. There is also random old person nudity throughout the film, which was odd. It seemed like a sloppy way to portray the character as insane.
The grandpa is also an important element to the film, but you wouldn’t know that from the trailer. At first he seems normal, but he gets progressively worse over time. It’s clear he was intended to be a schizophrenic character, since he has hallucinations and paranoia. The horror genre in general is pretty awful at dealing with the subject of mental illness, but this just seemed lazy. Schizophrenia is a go-to for many horror films, and not only is it mildly offensive, it’s just stale.
One thing the movie did well was that it had very believable characters. The little brother rapped about how many girls would date him, and the siblings interacted with each other quite realistically. The way the mom talked to her kids seemed true to life, but the fact that she allowed them to leave for a week to visit her parents, who she was on bad terms with, was less realistic.
Also, as silly as it sounds, there actually were some scenes where the grandma was scary. There was one part where the kids were playing hide and seek under the house and she appears out of nowhere, chasing them at top speeds on all fours, with her hair covering her face. It may just be that crawling makes any action ten times as unsettling as walking, but this was horrifying.
Plus, everyone knows that when you see the name Shyamalan on a movie, you can expect one of his signature plot twists. This movie was no exception to that rule.
Overall, The Visit is entertaining, but is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie. It did rely on some lazy cliches, like the crazy schizophrenic, the super smart sister and the goofy younger brother. If nothing else, you could watch it just to laugh at it.
Mikayla Rust, Editor in Chief