The 400-Word Review: The Visit
By Sean Collier
September 14, 2015
The primary problem (among a vast expanse of smaller problems) with most films by M. Night Shyamalan is his inability to collaborate. Most of the director’s poorly-received films — The Last Airbender, The Happening, The Lady in the Water, The Village — had Shyamalan as director, writer, producer and actor. Perhaps cleaner, more satisfying movies would’ve resulted had the filmmaker allowed others to work on his admittedly engaging ideas.
The terrifying truth evident after watching The Visit, easily the director’s worst effort: All of the aforementioned duds could’ve been much worse.
Shyamalan financed The Visit himself, fed up with an excess of studio involvement in his previous works. To say that the result is amateurish insults amateurs. The Visit is confusingly, distressingly, infuriatingly bad; it is soaked in the sort of undeniable and inarguable badness that raises questions not just about the competency of Shyamalan, but about his sanity.
A pair of Philadelphia-area children are sent to stay with their grandparents while their beleaguered mother takes a cruise. The children have never met these relatives, as Mom had an ugly falling out with them years ago. (Why a parent would ship two kids off to stay with relatives she has no reason to trust is one of many unanswered questions.)
The grandparents act weird, then they act vaguely scary. Throughout, the tone swings from bad comedy to bad horror; for a while, moments of intended levity will only serve to make you hate the characters, then jump scares (which are so hokey that they make Paranormal Activity look like The Birds) will illicit derisive giggles. At best.
I won’t name the actors, who all tried hard and deserve better than any further association with this monstrosity. The script is incoherent and inconsistent; the found-footage direction could’ve been improved by attaching a GoPro to a ceiling fan and displaying the results; the story moves like a rambling anecdote told by a half-asleep drunk.
Oh, and the film directly implies that individuals suffering from dementia might kill you and are to be avoided.
The Visit is less a film and more an extended experiment in how not to make a movie, more akin to The Room than an actual Hollywood production. In the 1-10 ratings scale that typically follows these reviews, I never hand out a score of zero.
Except for right now. This is the worst movie I have ever reviewed.
My Rating: 0/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark