THE VISIT – Review by Susan Granger

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Halloween horror season starts early with M. Night Shyamalan’s strangely creepy, suspenseful tale of a brother and sister who spend a week on their maternal grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm. Realizing that their recently divorced mother (Kathryn Hahn) needs a vacation, teenage Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her exuberant, rap-loving, younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) encourage her to take a Royal Caribbean cruise with her boyfriend. Read on…

Having disapproved of their mother’s marriage to their father, the grandparents have been estranged for years and have never met the grandkids but are now eager to mend the relationship. So aspiring filmmaker Becca intends to make a documentary about this experience.

Meeting the train, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) are, admittedly, a bit odd. Nana’s always baking and laughs hysterically in a rocking chair, facing the wall. And Pop Pop can be unexpectedly curt, cautioning them to never leave their bedroom after 9:30 p.m.

Hearing strange nocturnal noises, they peek out and spy Nana wandering around nude, clawing the walls. Pop Pop explains that she’s ‘sundowning,’ a medical term referring to dementia patients’ reacting restlessly or aggressively when evening approaches.

Becca functions as the compassionate commentator as they curiously explore their mother’s childhood home and come to realize how age has impaired their grandparents’ functionality, resulting in bizarre behavior.

Utilizing weird camera angles and a ‘found footage’ gimmick, Shyamalan then delivers a stunning twist to this intense family drama.

In 1999, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan catapulted into pop culture with “The Sixth Sense,” followed by “Signs,” “The Village” and “Unbreakable.” Unfortunately, his next four films – “Lady in the Water,” “The Happening,” “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth” – misfired.

Collaborating on TV’s quirky “Wayward Pines,” Shyamalan learned how to create chaotic visual energy with fewer resources. Which led to this comedic thriller, financed with $5 million of his own money.

Once dubbed “the next Spielberg” by Time magazine, Shyamalan is the highest-profile director to team up with micro-budget producer Jason Blum (“Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity”).

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Visit” is a spooky, scary 6. As Nana says, “You have to laugh to keep the deep darkies in a cave.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.