Movie Review: ‘THE VISIT’ – A Welcoming Comeback for M. Night Shyamalan

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Susan Kamyab // Contributing Critic

THE VISIT | 94 min | PG-13
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie and Kathryn Hahn

Previously published ThisChixFlix.com

M. Night Shyamalan was once known for his great films such as THE SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, and SIGNS. Unfortunately, his more recent projects have subjected us to some underwhelming, pieces of crap like THE HAPPENING and AFTER EARTH. Well folks, I’m pleased to say that Shyamalan’s latest film, THE VISIT, succeeds as a highly entertaining horror-comedy!

Kathryn Hahn plays a single mother of two (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who has not spoken to her parents since she left home at the age of 19 and ran off with an older man. Now, her parents have reached out to her through the internet and ask that her children come to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), whom they’ve never met.

Per the kids’ wishes, the mom sends them to their grandparents’ isolated, Pennsylvania farmhouse in the woods for a week while she goes on a cruise with her new boyfriend. The eldest child, Becca (DeJonge), is an aspiring filmmaker. She takes this opportunity to document her entire trip, and hopefully uncover exactly what happened the day her mother walked out on her parents and maybe even mend their relationship. Alongside her, as a second camera operator is her younger, germ phobic, rapping brother, Tyler (Oxenbould).

Deanna Dunagan as the terrifyingly good Nana in THE VISIT. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Deanna Dunagan as the terrifyingly good Nana in THE VISIT. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The trip starts all well and good, Nana makes plenty of tasty treats and Pop Pop enjoys listening to Tyler’s ridiculously, hilarious raps. Seems as though it will be a great week for the kids– that is until they discover why bed time is at 9:30 p.m. Nana goes from a harmless, nocturnal sleepwalker to a straight up psychotic, creepy crawler within each passing night! And what exactly is Pop Pop doing when he disappears inside his mysterious shed? As things turn eerie fast, the kids are desperate to have their mother come get them before anymore craziness unfolds.

Shyamalan has not only redeemed himself as a filmmaker, but he has also brought originality to the found-footage/mockumentary genre. His combination of humor and terror will have audiences uncomfortably laughing while still on the edge of their seats as they nervously anticipate what’s to come.

The acting is good overall, especially when it comes to the two kids, who could have ruined the whole film if they were wrongly cast. Oxenbould was given some cheesy lines and potentially bad jokes, but his delivery and timing is so on-point that you can’t help but enjoy every second he’s on screen. But the real stand out here is Nana. Dunagan gives an incredible performance as the disturbing grandmother who seesaws from sweet and nurturing to plain insanity.

THE VISIT provides comedy, horror, family, and best of all, a startling amount of effed up sh*t. Literally!

THE VISIT opens everywhere today.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.