”I never liked you anyway.”
You come home after a hard day’s work down the copper mine or behind the counter at a hipster coffee shop and you decide that it’s a perfect night to watch a horror movie. It happens. You turn out the lights, pour yourself a Shirley Temple or a nice Greek wine, open a packet of Tesco savers digestive biscuits, hit up Netflix for a random horror film and settle in for a right good scare. Unless the horror movie you chose was The Visit. Then your night, and possibly your life, will be ruined.
Can you remember back all those years to just after The Sixth Sense (1999) was released and M. Night Shyamalan was being hailed as a brilliant director and visionary. Oh how wrong we were. Who needs a convincing story and strong writing when you can just lazily put in a plot twist and watch the pennies roll in? Certainly not M. Night. He does what he wants. And The Visit is no exception.
When the trailer was released it looked like your typical, found footage (enough with this already, god damn you Blair Witch Project) jump scare movie. Nothing wrong with enjoying those, I’m sure’ Paranormal Activity 13: The Pirate Ghost will be a great addition to the overall narrative. A brother and sister go visit (see, that’s the title, M. Night knows his stuff) their grandparents, alone for some reason and despite starting all fun and cookies, things quickly start to go bat-shit crazy. Like most visits with elderly relatives do.
My first huge problem with the movie happens at the very beginning and is a huge part of the story and silly plot-twist. The mother of the main characters, Tyler and Becca, hasn’t spoken to her parents in years because they had a falling out after she began a relationship with one of her teachers – how prudish of them – and they contact her to ask if they could blah blah blah. Who cares. It’s a silly movie. So she decides that the best thing to do is send her young children alone on a train to meet two people they’ve never seen before whilst she goes on some kind of sex cruise. Who would do this.? Seriously. Just send them on the train and hope for the best. Terrible mother. Terrible woman. Terrible film.
My second huge problem is the boy, Tyler (Oh how I hate Tyler). Holy shit this guy sucks. He is a rapper who likes to be called T-Diamond Stylus (someone got paid more than I’ll make this year to write that name) and he is god awful. You have to sit through a few of his raps in the film and they are as cringe-worthy as anything you will ever see in your life. Seriously. Makes Vanilla Ice look like Tupac. All of this means that when the kids start going through the psychological torture at the hands of the elderly pensioners, you enjoy watching him suffer and have no empathy whatsoever. I was crying with laughter when the grandpa wipes Tyler’s face with a used nappy. I shouldn’t hate a teenage boy this much but I did. Thanks again M. Night.
You could possibly forgive these horrible transgressions if the horror aspect was up to par but it is not. Not even remotely. The scary moments are obvious and ridiculous. The grandmother’s performance is so over the top that it gets very off putting very quickly. You don’t care about the two children when you should. The mother is the worst parent in the history of cinema. The narrative is silly and lazy. There’s a guy called T-Diamond Stylus and people agree to call him this. Just everything is dreadful. The only redeeming quality is that it qualifies for the clichéd premise of being ‘so bad it’s funny’ which was surely not what M. Night Shyamalan was going for.
The plot twist is not one of his best either. One that would be made redundant if the mother wasn’t such a terrible person. The moment when (SPOILER ALERT) she tells them that those aren’t their grandparents is so lazy and piss-poorly written that it has no emotional weight to it. By M. Night’s standards of awfulness it is up there with the twist at the end of The Village (another terrible movie). The whole movie wouldn’t have happened if she acted like a normal, reasonable adult and just showed them a photograph of her parents or at least went with them to the train station to make sure they weren’t going to spend a week with murderous pensioners.
A very silly film and one that is only worth watching just to see how truly ridiculous it is. If you’re looking for a good scary film then The Visit isn’t it – not even remotely. It is also another crucial piece of damning evidence in the case for M. Night Shyamalan never making another movie ever again. He is a hack writer/director and a bum (apologies for the language) and shouldn’t be allowed near any movie ever again. If not for his shockingly poor plot-twists then for coming up with the nom-de-plumes T-Diamond Stylus.