Shaky camera work and an awkward 13-year-old trying to rap make it difficult to believe that you are watching a film by one of the great masters of suspense. The first twenty minutes of The Visit are indeed hard to watch, and may have viewers wondering if M. Night Shyamalan has lost his touch. It is, however, an intelligent film packed with uneasy interactions and original plot developments that keep viewers fluctuating between laughter and apprehension.

‘The Visit’ Review

The Visit is the story of a woman (Kathryn Hahn) with two kids who have never met their grandparents. This is due to a falling out she had with them 15 years prior for reasons she will not disclose. The mother is contacted by her estranged parents who would like to spend a week getting to know their grandchildren at their rural Pennsylvania home.

Becca (Olivia DeJonge) is an aspiring documentary filmmaker who wants to record the entire week complete with interviews. Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) is a what his sister would call an “ethnically confused” rapper. Tyler is the source of comedic relief among the cast.

They travel by train and meet with their grandparents for the first time. Immediately, the children begin to notice strange behavior from the elderly couple who warn them stay away from the basement and out of the shed under seemingly innocent circumstances. But none of this escapes Tyler who insists that the grandparents are “throwing shade.”

The excuses pile up as night after night Nana’s Sundowners Syndrome acts up in more startling ways than before. She walks around in a stupor, running through the halls like a maniac, and clawing at doors in the nude. She acts placidly during the day except on certain occasions. Becca passes this behavior off to the fact that they are just old.

Nana (Deanna Dunagan) is not the only one. Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) spends far too much time in the shed and when Becca needs him he is in the barn with a shotgun in his mouth. He abruptly tells her that he was just cleaning it, nothing more. When visitors come to the house, Nana and Pop Pop are nowhere to be found. What could be going on with the elderly couple that they behave like patients in a mental institution?

The Visit takes a different path than most films by M. Night Shyamalan in that comedy is a prominent feature in the dialogue, and, while retaining some qualities of horror, is not as supernatural as the audience is tricked into believing. Set against the backdrop of abandonment and regret, The Visit is heavy, dynamic and fitting to the reputation of the iconic writer and director.

Picture: Ed Oxenbould, Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan