Despite all the hype around M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie, The Visit proved to be more of a failure than a victory. Like all Shyamalan movies, The Visit contained a classic, unexpected twist. The twist, however, could not make up for the poorly developed plot that dominated the film. The Visit tells the story of aspiring filmmaker Becca and her younger brother Tyler, played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould respectively. The story begins with the siblings setting off to meet their estranged grandparents in rural Pennsylvania. Becca brings her video camera to try and seal the rift that happened years ago between her mother—played by Kathryn Hahn—and her grandparents—played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie.
During their stay, Becca and Tyler come to the realization that their grandparents are not whom they first appeared to be. In order to figure out the truth, Becca and Tyler decide to document their “visit.”
Despite the promising synopsis and director, The Visit is only pleasing from the surface. This movie is full of flaws, bringing about its downfall. A significant problem is that the film tries to stretch across multiple genres. Horror, documentary and comedy combined do not create a good setup for a Shyamalan film. There are times where it is not clear whether the audience should laugh or cringe. Even the horror aspects of the film were not terrifying—just disturbing.
Furthermore, the characters were underdeveloped. Becca—who is barely 15 years old—is using vocabulary so far past her age it seemed awkward and out of place. Tyler is a cocky 12-year-old who believes his rap skills surpass any YouTube sensation. Both children are too precocious, simply becoming aggravations to the film rather than compelling protagonists.
Another issue with the film was that too many themes were brought in and then abandoned halfway through. The children have inner demons that they struggle with after their parents’ nasty divorce. Yet, this very problematic detail is rarely brought up as the children go through traumatic nights with their insane grandparents; even though the resurfacing of these issues would have helped the characters develop.
By the end of the film—despite the unforeseeable twist—there was a sense of incompleteness. An anticlimactic feeling rose within audience members because of all the loose ends the movie did not tie up.
One positive aspect of the movie, however, is that there were no dull moments—even if the movie did prove to be a letdown. In some way—whether it is puzzling over Becca’s word choice, reeling from the grandparents’ creepy behaviors or listening to Tyler attempt to rap—it was undoubtedly entertaining to watch.