Review: The Visit by M Night Shayamalan

26 August 2023
"The Visit," a cinematic creation helmed by the masterful M. Night Shyamalan (The Village, Unbreakable, Knock at the Cabin), beckons audiences into the depths of an unsettling and enigmatic odyssey, where the realms of horror, estrangement, and the complexity of human nature intermingle. Within the confines of this chilling found footage-style film, Shyamalan demonstrates his virtuosity as a storyteller, intricately braiding together the threads of suspense and psychological horror to craft a tapestry that is both enthralling and deeply disquieting.

As the audience delves into this mesmerizing tale, they are poised to traverse a cinematic landscape where the boundaries of reality blur, inviting them to confront the shadowed corners of the human psyche in a manner that is as captivating as it is profoundly unsettling.

Nestled within the idyllic countryside of Pennsylvania, the narrative centers around Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), two siblings who embark on an eagerly awaited visit to meet their long-lost grandparents. The catch is that the grandparents have been estranged from the family for years due to a deep-rooted familial discord. Armed with a video camera, Becca captures the unfolding events, seeking to document their journey while fostering connections and understanding.

the visit film review shyamalan

A notable strength of "The Visit" is its adept utilization of the found footage style. This technique, though familiar, successfully plunges the audience into a world of unease and intimacy, mirroring Becca's lens as she navigates the eerie surroundings. This perspective enhances the suspense, as viewers are tethered to the characters' unfolding experiences, contributing to an immersive and visceral cinematic encounter.

The film deftly blurs the line between the ordinary and the unsettling, as seemingly innocent moments gradually give way to an escalating sense of dread. Shyamalan employs his signature ambiguity and restraint to create tension, allowing the audience's imaginations to fill in the gaps with apprehension. The horror lies not in overt displays of gore, but rather in the uncanny and unpredictable behavior of the grandparents, who alternate between charming and sinister personas.

The theme of the uncanny and the distortion of the familiar emerges as a central motif in "The Visit." Shyamalan delves into the unsettling aspects of human behavior, showcasing how the veneer of normalcy can crumble to reveal unsettling truths. This theme is embodied by Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie's exceptional performances as the grandparents. Dunagan's portrayal of Nana oscillates between benevolent and deeply disturbing, while McRobbie's Pop Pop conceals sinister undertones beneath a grandfatherly façade. The contrast between their sweet demeanor and their actions imbues the film with an unnerving quality.

"The Visit" is not without its moments of levity, thanks to the humor injected by the sibling duo. Ed Oxenbould's Tyler infuses the film with comic relief, lightening the tension. However, this comedic interplay occasionally clashes with the prevailing atmosphere of unease, leading to some tonal inconsistency.

At the heart of "The Visit" lies a chilling classic Shyamalan twist that sends shivers down the spine of audiences. As the narrative unfolds, a veil of deception is gradually lifted to unveil a deeply disturbing reality: the children's supposed grandparents, Nana and Pop Pop, are not who they claim to be. Through a series of cryptic hints and unnerving occurrences, the unsettling truth surfaces that the real grandparents had been murdered prior to the siblings' arrival. 

This revelation infuses the story with a sense of profound unease, as the fabricated personas of Nana and Pop Pop disintegrate to reveal a malevolent force lurking beneath. M. Night Shyamalan's expert pacing and gradual disclosure of this macabre twist add layers of complexity to the horror, leaving viewers stunned and haunted by the implications of the deception.

In conclusion, "The Visit" solidifies M. Night Shyamalan's reputation for crafting suspenseful narratives with thought-provoking twists. Through its exploration of estrangement, the distortion of familiarity, and the sinister potential of human nature, the film leaves audiences pondering the boundaries of horror within the mundane. Despite minor tonal hiccups, the film remains an absorbing journey into the macabre, making it a commendable addition to the psychological horror genre and a testament to Shyamalan's storytelling prowess.

After Shyamalan's misteps with After Earth and The Happening, The Visit is a strong return to form.

Reviewer rating: Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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