The Visit: Movie Review

Anything but your predictable horror film, The Visit is eerie enough to send tingles up the spine of even the most hardened viewer. As the quirky and comedic brother- sister pair enter unfamiliar surroundings together, the effortless combination of mystery and suspense is sure to please all varieties of viewers. Through careful direction by M. Night Shyamalan, underlying emotional messages intertwine with distinct camera work to create an intriguing yet disturbing plot line as well as outstanding characters to keep the audience at the edge of their seats.

The children’s mother, Loretta (Kathryn Hahn, crossing jordan), lost contact with her parents 15 years ago as the aftermath of an unspeakable argument. When her parents randomly reach out to her and ask to see their grandchildren for the first time, the children jump at the chance to meet them. In the hopes of reversing their mothers’ emotional trauma of the past, the children seize the opportunity of reconciliation. Becca (Olivia DeJonge, Good Pretender), her daughter, also sees the one week trip as an opportunity to make a documentary, for which she films the entirety of The Visit.

Soon Becca and her younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) arrive in small town Masonville, Pennsylvania where they meet Nana (Deanna Dunagan, The Cherokee Word for Water) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie, Golden Years) for the first time. On the surface, the interaction seems to be moving along swiftly as the newly introduced family members bond, but things begin to become strange all too quickly. The children are given strict orders: not to go into the mold infested basement, that bedtime is at 9:30, and they are not to leave their room during the night. However, Becca and Tyler’s curiosity overwhelm them once they begin hearing peculiar noises. The duo becomes increasingly alarmed after witnessing their Nana undergo a violent incident of regurgitation and hallucination. Yet, it seems Nana is not the only one with secrets, as Pop Pop proves to suppress some demons of his own. At first, the innocent children assume their grandparents are solely suffering from old age, but after a series of frightening events, suspicions that Nana and Pop Pop’s mental state may not be a consequence of dotage rises.

Portrayed as an intelligent young woman, DeJonge’s performance of ‘Becca’ is effortless, from keeping others’ best interest in mind to maintaining modesty in regards to her own issues, Becca proves to be a highly relatable character. DeJonge seamlessly embodies her character, an intuitive and curious teen, through asserting herself as a key element to the movie. DeLonge ties in an emotional piece to the movie, as many viewers may picture their friend, sister, or daughter in such testing situations. Overall, she significantly impacted the movie with her impassioned yet highly convincing performance.

Becca’s Brother, Tyler, adds an entirely unique element to the horror- filled plot, differing from the raw fear of the story as well as the compassion of his sister. As a 13 year old boy portrayed by Ed Oxenbould, slews of laughter are accompanied by his character’s teenage quirks. As an unusual aspect of a suspenseful film, Oxenbould is able to convince viewers through realistic snippets of comedy in the midst of serious situations- the epitome of an obnoxious, yet lovable, younger brother. Overall, he became a believable teenage boy that brought an unforeseen spark to the movie, setting it apart from other films of the genre.

Much like Tyler, the distinctive camera work brings an unknown element to the film. Almost as though the audience is partaking in the terror and screams with the characters, the somewhat shaky first person view hints towards in a vicarious perspective to scenes that viewers are sure to be lured in by. Although this is a tactic often used in horror films for just this reason, it proves to be highly appropriate in The Visit, making for an eerily sinister film.

A cliché horror film character, Nana proves to be extremely peculiar, as well as isolated from the other characters. Portraying an absent minded elderly person, her swift change in demeanor may come as a shock to many viewers. With minimal emotion to show, Dunagans performance may very well leave viewers unable to look at their own grandmothers the same way. Pop Pop, played by McRobbie, gives an accurate portrayal of an older man suffering from dementia. The diversity of his character was especially intriguing, as he was a man of innocence as well as anger. Overall, both of the grandparents’ performances were more than adequate, complementing the story line with an eerie twist to normally lovable grandparent characters.

With all the characters appropriately portrayed, the filmmakers chose a common horror film  format for the plot line. The movie went day by day, with mostly normal things happening while the sun was up, followed by insanity overtaking the household at sundown. With smaller scares leading up to the climax, the unpredictable plot line is sure to keep the audience's full attention with its suspenseful moments.

All in all, the movie was outstanding when it came distinguishing itself from films of the same genre. Through the compilation of unique characters, comedy, horror, and emotions of the past, audiences of all kinds are sure to have their expectations met and exceeded.

GRADE: A-

By: Aliza Hitz

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