The Visit, M. Night Shyamalan‘s return to the horror genre, follows two young teens who have no idea what they’re in for when they settle in at their grandparents house for an extended visit.

Aspiring filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent off to stay with Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) when their mother (Kathryn Hahn) goes off on a vacation with her boyfriend. Becca decides to record the visit, believing that somehow she’ll be able to broker peace between her mother and grandparents, who haven’t seen each other in nearly two decades. Before long, Becca’s camera starts catching some bizarre behavior from Nana and Pop Pop.

The Visit Reviews

Shyamalan, who’s best known for directing the culturally enduring The Sixth Sense, has been derided for the quality of his last several films. Critics think that The Visit, while not on the same level as The Sixth Sense, is certainly a return to form for the director. And, though some reviewers couldn’t get onboard with Shyamalan’s scares in The Visit, the vast majority felt that the film makes for a worthwhile trip to the theater.

“The whole thing straps the audience in for a wheelchair ride straight to crazy town. But it’s the fun kind of crazy. And “The Visit” is undeniably, admirably intense when it needs to be. Shyamalan’s previous feature was the big-budget Will and Jaden Smith bomb “After Earth” (2013). Now he’s written a messed-up fairy tale that often nails the sweet spot between scaring us and letting us laugh at how scared we are. It’s crowd-pleasing horror, the kind that can push moviegoers to the edge of their seats and send them to the water cooler the next day.” – Peter Hall, New York Daily News

“[Olivia] DeJonge’s teenage documentarian uses her camera to catch “Nana” behaving oddly at night while Oxenbould’s character stumbles upon “Pop Pop” jamming a gun in his mouth. What the hell is going on? To further elaborate would be to spoil the very Shyamalan-esque third-act twist in the film, which the director also wrote. Suffice to say that the result is an effective scare machine and a semi-return to form for its creator. Certainly, this is the first Shyamalan movie in a long time that viewers may be tempted to re-visit just to see how he pulls off his magic trick.” – Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly

“But what ultimately sinks The Visit is that Shyamalan, who had previously come up with new and ingenious ways to frighten us, resorts to familiar jump-scare tactics in which things suddenly pop into the frame, accompanied by loud sound effects. There’s no real sense of danger, no menace: Something is clearly wrong with Nana and Pop-Pop, but even as their actions grow darker and more worrisome, the kids continue to play along. By the time Becca is squeezing into an oven — all the way inside — so she can clean it for Nana, you start thinking she deserves to stay locked in there until she grows a few IQ points.” – Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

“It’s Shyamalan’s best movie in years. The low-budget thriller deftly mixes horror-movie moments, pure strangeness and comedy like a family-friendly David Lynch effort as it takes audiences on one really oddball trip to grandma’s house. […] After taking Hollywood by storm in the ’90s and then weathering the fallout of plenty of bad movies afterward, with The Visit Shyamalan finally shows signs where it counts — on a cinema screen — of his unbreakable commitment to his craft and the ability to still cook up some good stuff in his house.” – Brian Truitt, USA Today

The Visit is currently in wide release.