Some genres just don’t appeal to me, in horror, it’s the horror/comedy sub genre; mainly because, in my opinion, so many of them don’t get it right. There are of course, notable successes and they are among some of my favorite horrors – Shaun of the Dead, Scream, Severance and Rec 3 would be the ones that spring most readily to my mind. The failures outweigh them by a country mile. They either have too much horror and not enough comedy or vise versa, or they suffer from the worse crime of being ugly, loud and stupid. I like my comedy to be knowing and sly, a little smarts to go with the laughs, but they also must show the correct respect and reverence for the horror genre itself, spoofs are fine and dandy but don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
The trailer for ‘The Visit’ does not appear to be promoting a comedic film, it looks like a paranormal activity 4/insidious type movie, combining creepy goings on with the much maligned found footage format.
This was the film I was expecting to see when I attended the cinema with my friend, Mrs S on a cooling Melbourne evening in suburbia.
I got some of what I expected – shaky handy cam, jump scares, eerie sounds, characters talking direct to camera, but there was much more fun to be had and I was pleasantly surprised to find a horror that gave more than was on the outside box.
The plot details a visit to the estranged grandparents secluded farmhouse by a pair of city kids struggling to come to terms with the recent departure of their beloved father and hoping to reconcile their mother with the parents she ran away from in her teens. It was a more ‘human’ back story than we have come to expect from these types of films and added real heart to the proceedings.
Once in the farmhouse things escalate in weirdness to a truly shocking finale that had me laughing and cringing at the same time.
The acting here is really outstanding. Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie playing Nana and Pop Pop respectively, give fully committed performances, going anywhere the script demands with gusto, Kathryn Hahn as the mother gives as great as she always does – this woman needs a starring role like now! Olivia DeJonge as the daughter is good in a less flashy role, but the true standout is Ben Oxenbould as the son, he stole every scene he was in and was utterly believable as well as totally hilarious in this film – truly great, he’s come a long way from ‘Puberty Blues’ and his accent never slipped once.
As ‘The Visit’ was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, The Village), there are audience members out there who will hate this purely by his association. He has made plenty of enemies since the heady ‘Sixth Sense’ days with his follow up movies and their diminishing returns; but that is all sour grapes and no reflection on how enjoyable, creepy, funny and unexpected this film was.
It should have been promoted as the horror comedy it is.
Don’t go expecting sleepless nights and you’ll have a great time with this one.
And next time I stub my toe I’m yelling “Katy Perry!”