A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Visit is a found-footage horror movie from director M. Night Shyamalan. There are plenty of spooky images, sounds, and dialogue, as well as jump scares and a small amount of blood and gore. Viewers see dead bodies (including one killed in a rather shocking way), and two teens, 13 and 15, are frequently in peril. The 13-year-old boy fancies himself a ladykiller, which leads to some minor innuendo, and the "Nana" character's naked bottom is shown a couple of times. Language includes a use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," and more, most frequently spoken by the 13-year-old. Adult characters infrequently smoke cigarettes, and there's a very brief, mimed reference to smoking pot. Shyamalan is a filmmaker whom horror hounds love to hate, but this movie could be a comeback that fans will want to see.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Thirteen-year-old Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) and 15-year-old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) agree to spend a week with their grandparents while encouraging their mom (Kathryn Hahn) to take a vacation with her boyfriend. The kids have never met their grandparents, "Nana" (Deanna Dunagan) and "Pop Pop" (Peter McRobbie), at least partly because when their mother left home 15 years earlier, something terrible apparently happened. At first things seem fine, but then Nana and Pop Pop start behaving strangely. Even if it can all be explained -- Nana gets "sundown" syndrome, and Pop Pop requires adult diapers -- it doesn't quite ease the feeling that something's wrong. Meanwhile, Becca documents their visit on video, hoping to capture something that explains it all.
Is it any good?
After several perplexing misfires, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has scaled back, gone for a lower budget and a lighter tone, and emerged with his most effective movie in over a decade. THE VISIT begins interestingly; the potentially creepy moments can be easily explained away and even laughed off, but the director still manages to create a subtle, creeping dread that steadily builds toward the climax.
Shyamalan uses the found-footage concept with more creativity than most other filmmakers, displaying his usual intriguing grasp of three-dimensional space, as well as empty space. The characters themselves are even aware of certain cinematic theories that could make their "documentary" more interesting. They're refreshingly intelligent and self-aware, and they never blunder stupidly into any situation. If the movie has a drawback, it's that fans will be looking hard for clues to one of Shyamalan's big "twists." As to what it is, or whether there is one, we're not saying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Tyler considers himself a "ladykiller." Is his dialogue inappropriate for someone his age?
Tyler likes to rap and posts videos of himself. Is he expressing himself, or is he merely seeking fame? What's appealing about fame? Is it OK for kids to start their own online channels?
- In theaters: September 11, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2016
- Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge
- Director: M. Night Shyamalan
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language