“The Visit” is a found-footage horror movie about two kids (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who go to spend a week with their grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie), who they’ve never met. The problem is, the old folks are complete psychos.
This being a slow-build movie, they don’t start out as psychos. They start out as loveably kooky. Then eccentric. Then demented. But we know there’s a point of no return coming. And of course, nobody believes the kids when they say there’s something wrong with them. They’re old, of course there’s going to be a few things wrong with them. Nana’s night-walking and Pop-Pop’s adult diapers aren’t necessarily cause for alarm. But the talk of aliens and secret in the basement certainly are. So are the diapers, it turns out.
The movie manages to find an admirable balance between funny and scary. The pretentious filmmaker girl and obnoxious rapper boy get in some funny lines in between stretches where they’re annoying. Pop-Pop certainly has his moments as well. But it’s Nana who steals the show. They key word with this performance is “physical.” She can make you laugh, she can make you scream, she can make you scream and then you pretend you were laughing so you’re not embarrassed in front of your friends.
The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who for about the past decade has had a joke of a career. This film marks his comeback, where he adapts beautifully to the found-footage style that has defined this decade in popular horror. A few of his uglier tropes rear their heads, like really obvious foreshadowing for a burst of inspiration in the third act. But overall this is a fun horror film that only rarely resorts to violence for thrills. And this time I will make the obvious joke – You should pay this movie a “Visit.”
“The Visit” is rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, including terror, violence and some nudity and for brief language. Its running time is 94 minutes.