This film is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who I first heard of as the writer and director of 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which received six Oscar nominations. It was the film everyone was talking about at the time because of “the twist”, which Shyamalan has become known for in his films. He went on to make Unbreakable, Signs, The Village and Lady in the Water which I enjoyed. But 2008’s The Happening wasn’t very good and it was the last of his films that I had seen before The Visit. He made a strong creative comeback this summer with the 10-episode television series Wayward Pines. Based on that series I decided to see this film. Overall, this film was good, with most of it very good, bringing in suspense, fear and a good deal of humor. Unfortunately, the ending (last 30 minutes or so) wasn’t up to the quality of the rest of the film, bringing the rating down a half star.
Kathryn Hahn stars as the mother of fifteen year-old Becca (Olivia DeJone) and thirteen year-old Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). Mom left home at 19 when her parents disapproved of her older boyfriend (who would become the father of Becca and Tyler only to ultimately abandon the family for someone else.) Mom has not seen her parents since that time, but recently they asked to meet the grandchildren they’ve never met. As a result, Mom sends them off for a week’s visit while she goes off on a cruise with her new boyfriend.
Becca decides to make a documentary of the visit with her grandparents with the hope that reconciliation will come between her Mom and her parents. The constant filming is a good addition to the film. Tyler adds comic relief to what we all know is a ”scary movie” with his rapping and substituting female pop singer’s names for curse words. He is also a germophobe, while we find out that Becca will not look at herself in the mirror.
Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) seem uncomfortable around the children from the beginning. Pop Pop is frequently out in the barn by himself and Nana asks Becca to get into the oven – all the way into the oven – to clean it. But it is at night when things begin to get really strange around the house. Pop Pop says that they go to bed at 9:30 pm, and we find that it’s best for Becca and Tyler not to leave their room after that time if they know what’s best for them. And everything is recorded on Becca’s video camera.
The film contains some adult language, though a relatively small amount for a PG-13 film these days, and two brief scenes containing nudity (not in a sexual sense). None of the characters display any faith in their lives. Again, we enjoyed the film, but were disappointed in how Shyamalan ended the film. We were also disappointed to see parents bring their very small children to see this scary movie. Andy they wonder why they have bad dreams and don’t want to go to Grandma’s house?