Horror and comedy are often dismissed as easy genres. Every year a plethora of films populated by jump scares and jokes about dicks are packaged up and inflicted on the public. They’re also inevitably crap. The truth is to make a horror film or a comic film is just as hard as making a sweeping war epic. To combine the two, is arguably even harder.
Which takes us to The Visit, the supposed return to form of the hard to spell M. Night Shyamalan. At this point it seems to have split critics, with Mark Kermode declaring it Shyamalan’s worst work and others seeing it as his best in years. The sad truth seems to sit somewhere in the middle. The Visit is alright and nothing more than that.
Filmed in a documentary style, it follows two children on their first trip to their grandparents, who their mother fell out with and hasn’t seen for fifteen years. Rebecca, the daughter and a budding director, decides to film the trip in order to try to find closure for her mum. Aided by her brother, they quickly discover that these two old coots have some creepy habits that go past the realms of normal elderly quirks.
The films single biggest flaw is its complete lack of scares. There are a couple of jumps, but sitting here the day after I can’t point to one chill that genuinely stuck in my mind. It’s not a scary film and for a project that sets itself out to be one, that is a problem. Meanwhile, the not that shocking, shocking twist (this is a Shyamalan film) is so predictable that even when I gave a brief overview of the plot to my horror hating girlfriend, she guessed it in one.
On the other hand, it is funny. I don’t know if it’s funny in the parts that it is meant to be funny, but I laughed. Quite a lot. The two children are incredibly annoying and watching them try to navigate their way through a series of horror tropes is entertaining, even if it’s just in the hope that they die a slow and horrible death. It’s a shame they almost ruin it by having the son, Tyler, be a rapper. Which leads to several absolutely atrocious rhymes being dropped throughout the film. They obviously aim for humour, but are actually the film’s closest nod to pure horror.
The Visit fails on a very basic level. However, to call it an awful film is a bit too much. It’s merely just a bit naff and for the 93 minutes it is on you will enjoy yourself. It’s not going to go down in history as the new Evil Dead, but it will tickle a few funny bones and maybe even make a couple of folk jump. At least if you’ve never seen a horror film before. To call it a return to form is too much, but in comparison to After Earth, it’s a veritable tsunami of good fun.