The Visit film review: Shyamalan goes back to basics

Is M Night Shyamalan back to his spooky best in low-budget horror The Visit?

 When you sit down to watch an M Night Shyamalan film, it comes with the expectation of a twist. You may spend most of your viewing time trying to work out exactly where Shyamalan is headed and what the twist will be.

So it comes as no surprise that there’s one in this entertainingly bad comedy horror, which sees two teenagers leave the comfort of their city home and the warm arms of their loving single mother (Kathryn Hahn) to visit their estranged grandparents, who live on a remote farm.

However, you may sit in perplexed shock at how cringe-inducing and awful it is.

Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) is an aspiring filmmaker who is interested in finding out why her mother hasn’t spoken to her parents in 15 years. So she arranges a trip to visit her grandparents, along with her younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), and begins a documentary project about her family.

When their grandparents start acting odd during their week-long visit, with ‘Pops’ advising them to never leave their room after 9.30pm, they start to investigate exactly why.

Shyamalan’s script throws up ethical questions about documentary filmmaking, but basically he’s just having a bit of a nag about the manipulation of subjects. And both of the kids spew dialogue that aspires to be full of the irony, energy and humour of Kevin Williamson’s back catalogue of screenplays, but fails miserably.

He also paints the age gap in broad strokes, with the tech-savvy Rebecca and rap-obsessed Tyler defining the youth of today. Granny suffers from dementia, and Pops is often confused and angry, which leaves the kids shaken, but then any good work on this topic is undone and made a mockery of, especially in the final throes.

The mystery surrounding their mother’s estrangement is used as a device to keep you hooked while all the rest of the crap is flying around in the background, but even that ends up drawing a disappointingly tame conclusion.

The Visit is crass and predictable, and nearly as bad as the extremely dire The Happening