When I first saw the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie The Visit, I could not wait to see the whole thing. It has over-the-top performances but with deep character development which formed a genuine connection between me and the protagonists of the film, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould). Becca and Tyler are two siblings who are off to visit their estranged grandparents, played by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie, for the first time. Their mother is brilliantly played by Kathryn Hahn, who shows just how versatile she is by playing as convincing a role in this heart-pounding thriller as she does in her other comedic roles.
The Visit reminded me of dark comedies such as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and The Cabin in the Woods, which I absolutely did not expect from a director like Shyamalan. His past films like The Village and The Happening felt more serious to me, which I felt left little room for goofy hijinks and 80s-style gross-out gags. The Visit had everything that the trailer promised and even more.
Shyamalan crafted The Visit with just a perfect mix of ‘handheld’ camera shots and cinematic camera shots. All of the characters are thoroughly developed, and each has lovable or horrifying quirks, like Nana’s violent sleepwalking outbursts or Tyler’s hilarious and amazing freestyle rapping skills. The Visit oozed lots of things, but the thing that stood out the most was its sense of fun. Even during some of the more terrifying scenes, I couldn’t help but feel between each take the actors and the crew must have been laughing at what was happening. Each of the ‘players’ gave it their all and held nothing back in expressing their characters’ unique and disturbing personalities.