Returning to the thriller genre after sci-fi flops The Last Airbender and After Earth, M Night Shyamalan takes a belated stab at found-footage horror with The Visit, a low-budget chiller/comedy in which two teenagers’ week-long visit to the grandparents they have never met turns into a different kind of ordeal to the one they were expecting.
Despatched by their single mom (Katherine Hahn) to stay with her estranged parents in snowy rural Pennyslvania, 15-year-old aspiring documentary maker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her 13-year-old wannabe rapper brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould, star of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) are soon discombobulated by the odd behaviour of their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). Are their odd quirks simply the products of old age or is something far weirder going on? Whatever the cause, things turn distinctly creepy after bedtime…
Forgive the contrived plotting and obligatory Shyamalan twist, and The Visit does deliver clammy unease and scary jolts, with its fairy tale echoes delivering a particular frisson when this Hansel and Gretel get into the kitchen. But the found-footage device quickly becomes strained and irritating, and much of the comedy misfires. Not a disaster, then, but only a partial return to form.
Certificate 15. Runtime 94 mins. Director M Night Shyamalan.