I can’t quite tell if The Visit knows how ridiculous it is. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, which doesn’t tap into our fear of old people so much as our vague disgust toward them, is about kids visiting their grandparents. It may be funny, but it’s not played for laughs. The real question is whether The Visit is in on the joke.
It’s disappointing that Shyamalan doesn’t show any sign of the guy who directed the stylish and effective scenes in Signs, such as the birthday party video, the dark basement, or the knife reflection under the door. At least he doesn’t show any signs of the guy who let Signs get knocked over by a wildly swinging baseball bat or the utterly tone deaf day laborer who directed After Earth. Time was he showed a lot of promise as a filmmaker in search of a script that wasn’t ridiculous. But with The Visit, rather than trusting the inherent creepiness or latent absurdity of his own script, he leans on some of the worst tropes of contemporary bad horror: found footage, jump scares, cell phones that don’t work, long stretches of filler featuring annoying young actors, gross-outs worthy of the Farrelly brothers.
What ultimately salvages The Visit is something too few horror movies achieve: a satisfying resolution. Say what you will about The Visit, at least all that weirdness is adequately explained in the end.