To say I was disappointed by an M. Night Shyamalan film may seem like an unlikely statement. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable director has been on a notorious bad streak for at least ten years and has never been able to drag his reputation out of the gutter, despite his unrelenting and often painful efforts. However, the Visit seemed to have some promise behind it, the trailers hinting at a creepy horror that looked like it had none of the intolerable sci-fi elements that Shyamalan had become worryingly obsessed with, After Earth being the prime example. The film had also built up some excitement among horror fans and it looked like many were ready to give the infamous director another chance.
So was the hype justified? Well, no. In fact, the Visit is by far one of the worst films I have ever seen. It is Shyamalan's cinematic cyanide, the proof that this man has pushed his luck and emptied our wallets too many times. Obnoxious and utterly unconvincing characters and a rancid and excruciating script are only the very beginning of the Visit's multitude of problems.
First off, from the look of all the trailers and interviews with Shyamalan, it was obviously intended as a horror. The final result has the Visit in a complete genre crisis. I was genuinely torn between whether it was trying to be a comedy flick, a touching tearjerker or a by the numbers horror. It didn't work as any of them.
The story follows Becca and Tyler as they visit their grandparents, whom their mother hasn't spoken too for years. Of course, all is not well in paradise as "Pop Pop" and "Nana" seem detached and empty, with glazed eyes and erratic movements. When night comes, the kids are told bedtime is 9:30 and they must not leave their room under any circumstances. Strange noises become more frequent as the grandparents grow more and more demented and psychopathic. But they weren't the ones I was scared of.
Becca and Tyler were far more terrifying to me, with their plastic acting and horribly obnoxious habits. Tyler likes to rap, making up freestyles "on the spot", and witnessing this was one of the most awful musical experiences I have ever had. The two were just so unlikable and unrealistic that is clear M. Night understands very little about kids. Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan are equally as unimpressive as "Pop Pop" and "Nana" but at least it looked like they were making something resembling effort.
As if the film hadn't felt stale enough yet, they also just had to revisit the found footage approach which most of us had hoped had finally died off. This technique adds absolutely nothing, only meaning that Shyamalan can have Becca talk about the complexity of her camera and explain its functions, as if he was trying to show off about his filmmaking knowledge. Trust me, no one was impressed. The trope doesn't even work half of the time, with whispered conversations from 20 metres away unrealistically clear.
But the worst sin that the Visit commits is it's not scary. And believe me, it tries. You almost feel sorry for its pitiful attempts at fear. Demonic wall-scratching, racing around on all fours and door banging are all present and are all so poorly done and unintentionally hilarious. A successful horror film can make literally anything creepy or even nightmarish but here, sitting in a rocking chair facing the wall is just sitting in a rocking chair facing the wall. They even try to make Yahtzee spooky.
The twist ending manages to be even worse. It is so utterly basic and predictable that if it had been in a college project it would still have been laughable. The final scenes are so utterly vile and putrid that they take the Visit from a 1 star film to a negative rating. The very last scene goes against everything Shyamalan tried to create tonally throughout and really has to be spoiled so beware if you plan on seeing it (which you definitely shouldn't): Tyler "raps" about the abuse that they suffered at the hands of their grandparents while his sister laughs along and the credits roll to a rap track. What the hell where they thinking?
I am lost for words. M. Night has outdone himself and created the most bland, genre-dodging piece of vile filth in recent cinematic history and his reputation deserves to be ripped to pieces for this, the final straw. The Visit is like the lady in the bathtub scene from The Shining, if she were playing the banjo. Mr Shyamalan, you once had some talent but it died long ago. Please, for the love of god, just go away.