PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Horror
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters September 11th*
Synopsis: A single mother finds that things in her family's life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.
Review: There is always a concern when watching an M. Night Shyamalan (Writer/Director) film. You are not sure if you will get a fantastic story like LADY IN THE WATER, a mind bending, mold breaker like THE SIXTH SENSE, or a bait and switch flop like, well, all his others. THE VISIT offers up the promise of creepy thrills and audiences deserve the payoff for a change. Not another unfulfilled concept.
15 year old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her slightly younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent to spend a week with the Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-Pop (Peter McRobbie) they have never met. Their mom (Kathryn Hahn) left home at a young age in the midst of turmoil and the family has been estranged ever since. Now seems like the perfect time to get acquainted and make some family memories. While Mom heads off on a much needed vacation of her own the kids settle in for a week with the grandparents. But it is quickly obvious that things are not so home sweet home. Becca and Tyler discover that Nana and Pop Pop are more than a little quirky; maybe even psychotic.
The first fifteen minutes or so you start to feel as if you are about to be duped again by the allure of a scary thriller. There are more laughs and odd ball moments than spine tingling thrills. But once the first night of the visit arrives the creepiness ensues. From then on there is a decent balance of horror and comedy with an abundance of good old fashion eerie. Shyamalan seems determined to give former fans of his movies what they always wanted. Never one for shock value he even adds in some gross and visually assaulting imagery. Granted it often feels like Nickelodeon on LSD with most of the scenes revolving around the teens. But kudos to him for at least going for broke.
DeJonge and Oxenbould carry most of the straight laced dialogue and are believable siblings. Becca is the very serious, grew up to fast, thinker while Tyler is the comedian of the family. He has audiences cracking up a lot in this one. mainly thanks to his delivery and embracing of the character. Shyamalan wrote an odd ball script and his characters never shy from it.
But this is about the creep factor which falls squarely on the shoulders of Dunagan. And boy does she deliver! It is a toss up to whether she is more nerve rattling as the soft spoken, cookie baking Nana or the other Nana that comes out at night. Both are equally able to cause you to sleep with one eye open. She throws herself into this role and leaves it all on the set. McRobbie is her faithful co-star and takes a back seat only in how he delivers his brand of odd.
This isn't a perfect film and it would be easy to dissect this apart. Many of us long for a stong showing from Shyamalan and might go easy on this one; liking it more than it deserves. But the bottom line is that there are plenty of jumps, gasps, and thrills in this one to give it a pass. And more than anything it doesn't lure you in and fail to deliver anything. In the end you might walk away wondering if you were given a 90 minute commercial about the importance of forgiveness.
THE VISIT is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language. There is a lot in this film that younger viewers shouldn't see. The language, visuals, nudity, and over all creep factor makes it more for those 16 and up. Die hard horror fans will think it mild while those who jump at shadows will get some good squeals. I give it 3 out of 5 Yahtzee Masters. I finally walked away from an M. Night film not feeling completely cheated.