Let me preface this review by providing the fact that I am not much of a horror movie lover. I’ve never thought that I should spend my money on getting scared when I can just as easily scare myself by hanging out in the Vis or thinking about student loans. My friends dragged me to see “The Visit”, and I will honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike many horror movies that end up on Netflix, “The Visit” actually has a plot. Siblings Becca (Olivia DeJong) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) go for a week-long visit to their estranged grandparents’ house. They are off to see the parents of their single mother (Kathryn Hahn), whom she hasn’t spoken to in eighteen years. Becca fancies herself a documentary director and chooses to use the reunion as a film opportunity. The kids go on a train by themselves to their mother’s hometown while their mother and her cool new boyfriend go on an all-inclusive cruise.
The week starts out very well with an awkward but pleasant meeting between Becca, Tyler, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). The big horror theme of the movie is that the kids cannot leave their room after 9:30 p.m.
The previews of the movie made this abundantly clear and the movie did not fail to make this apparent during the first night of the kids’ visit. Leaving their room, Becca witnesses her grandmother vomiting at the bottom of the staircase while walking around in the dark.
The horror genre is plagued with movies providing cheap jump-scares and obvious plots, but “The Visit” remedies this quite well. Every night and day the grandparents get weirder and weirder, and the filmmakers keep the audience asking “What’s wrong with these people?” Though there are jump scares in the film, they are well spread out and add a lot to the process of giving viewers the heebie-jeebies.
Being more of a psychological thriller that makes you ask questions the whole time, “The Visit” doesn’t try to make you wet the bed or cheer for the villain because there is nothing better to do. Becca and Tyler prove to be relatively reliable protagonists that you want to cheer for. You don’t want anything to happen to them because they are round characters with an actual backstory. I don’t know which I am more impressed with: round characters in a horror film or the fact that Becca only made one stereotypical horror movie mistake.
Pulling in the audience, spooking them, and making them think is on repeat during “The Visit.” Whether you want a good scare, or you’re interested in what was wrong with the grandparents (because I was purposefully vague about that in this review), I highly recommend this movie. It did not hurt to spend money on it, and I genuinely enjoyed it. At the very least, everyone should put it on their Netflix queue to watch with friends. It’ll get you thinking.