I didn’t really plan on watching “The Visit” in the cinema, but when I was asked if I wanted to come along and I didn’t have anything better to do, I figured: Why the hell not? Having said that, I went into the movie rather reluctantly, what with it being a) the new movie by former-wunderkind-who-has-fallen-from-grace M. Night Shyamalan, and b) found footage. The good news is: “The Visit” is better than his last three directorial outings (“After Earth”, “The Last Airbender” and the abysmal “The Happening”). The bad news is: Not by much.
Like many of his earlier movies, “The Visit” again features a twist – one that I saw coming about 30 minutes in. That in itself would not be that big of a deal (even though it means that “The Visit” didn’t feature a similar punch as his first three movies), but unfortunately, I also found said relevation to be rather implausible. I also had a hard time with the portrayal of the mental illness of the grandparents as either funny or disturbing/scary. I found that questionable at best and appalling at worst. I personally also could not relate at all to Tyler (maybe because I’ve never been a “brat” myself), and since I’m not the biggest fan of rap music, I really could have done without said musical acts. Finally, like with many movies of this kind, I didn’t quite get why Shyamalan felt that it was necessary to shoot it found-footage-(or rather fake documentary-)style. I didn’t feel that it gained anything from that, and you have the typical problems like “why do those kids continue filming in this particular moment”? I think if he would have just made a regular movie out of it, I might have enjoyed it more. That said: The performances were quite good (from the kids as well as their grandparents), with a running time of 94 minutes and a reasonable pace it’s short and fast-moving enough to not get boring, and there were a couple of nice, emotional scenes that you don’t always get in horror movies like that. Its biggest strength, though, was that Shyamalan (whatever his shortcomings might be otherwise) still knows how to stage suspenseful scenes and to build up a nice, eerie atmosphere. Thus, occasionally “The Visit” worked for me (which is more than I can say about his three previous films). Unfortunately, those moments were too far and in between for me to really recommend it.