Screen Squinty’s “The Visit” Review.

Film: The Visit.
Made by: Blinding Edge Pictures and Blumhouse Productions.
Released: 2015.
Running time: 93 min.

The Visit is urban legend style horror (possibly a bit of comedy) film written and directed by M. Night. Shyamalan about two children Rebeca and Tyler who go to visit their estranged grandparents John and Doris for the week and during their stay notice something increasingly odd is going on with the elderly couple.

From a technical perspective, the found footage style worked well with the film and the filmmakers were fairly consistent in maintaining the style throughout. It added an extra layer of experience for the viewers of the children, and combined with a good use of environment (tight confining crawl spaces, sprawling fog shrouded farm land), enhancing the horror and humour elements, the technical were pretty solid.

The characters worked well, each actor pulling of a stellar performance, particularly Deanna Dunagan as Doris; you can tell she was having a blast playing her role. The older girl was the least enjoyable, coming across as perhaps a bit to pretentious, but that could be purposeful, possibly a mild self-parody at some filmmakers in general.

Narrative wise this was perhaps one of M. Night. Shyamalan’s tighter stories; there was the absence of the inexplicable plot holes that existed in some of his other films (Signs for example) or a weak climax (The Village for another example); the plot progression flowed well enough, and though it took a bit of a slow start in the beginning, it did use that slow start to establish the two protagonists well.

The manipulation of tension was one of the stronger parts of the film. A sense of “will it or wont it” sinisterism that purveys some of the scenes, like the one where the protagonists are playing under the porch when they are suddenly beset upon by their rather creepily scuttling grandma only to have her pop out after them from under the porch after them and proclaim in an amused manner that she was just playing. It turned the moment of tension and jump scare into a moment of playful eccentricity, making it more a “what the Fay Dunaway was that?!” type of scene, but in a good way. This sentiment is carried out throughout the film, and keeps the sense of slightly skewed tension well.

While the film does have its flaws here and there, it’s an enjoyable watch with some good tension, great acting, and decent cinematography. One of Shyamalan’s better films as of late.

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