The verdict: I cannot look at my grandma in the same light after this.
Yesterday night, I made an extemporaneous trip to the cinema with my friend and boyfriend to watch M. Night Shyamalan's newest found-footage horror film, The Visit. I had seen the trailer ages ago and legitimately laughed out loud at what I thought was a total joke movie. You really can't take the plot seriously - two kids visit their grandparents at their lovely country home and find out that cuddly grandma's actually a complete freak with Formula 1 crawling skills. It doesn't sound scary at all. It sounds absolutely hilarious.
Of course, it then made a lot of sense when my friend said before the movie "Hey, you know this is a horror comedy right?" and I was like, "Fuck." I hate horror-comedies. Because horror-comedies aren't scary. For example, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are classic paragons of the horror-comedy genre but I would personally classify them as 100% comedy and 0% horror. I didn't find them scary at all, but even worse, I also didn't find them very funny. A few laughs here and there but nothing memorable that would have made it a great movie (which is not the consensus, I know).
The one experience that really turned me against the genre was when I bought and watched Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell during schoolies (another completely shit experience). Even though the movie had received rave reviews (92 percent on RT), I remember everyone agreeing that it was one of the worst horror films they had ever seen. The thing is, we were all looking forward to REAL SCARES, not hilariously bad scenes of projectile vomit. So of course, it just became an extremely disappointing 2 hours.
Back to The Visit. I had also walked into the cinema knowing that the last few movies Shyamalan had directed were tantamount crimes against humanity, namely The Last Airbender and Jaden Smith's coming-of-age in After Earth. In light of all this, I was not expecting anything actually scary or, well, anything that would be good from The Visit.
BOY WAS I WRONG.
The Visit was good. Very good.
The last time I had laughed and screamed at the same time during a movie was in Year 8 when my two BFFs and I were watching C-class horror movie The Unborn. There was this one scene where an old man in a wheelchair suddenly appeared at the top of a staircase, and then slowly crawled its way down with every possible bodily appendage (except for the penis) circumducting at varying weird angles and speeds. It was pretty horrific, but so over the top that we couldn't help bursting out into fits of laughter, as did the rest of the mostly tweenage audience. However, The Unborn was still overall a shit movie. It tried to be horror and failed.
The Visit, on the other hand, was a self-conscious horror-comedy which got pretty much everything right because it did manage to make me simultaneously laugh and scream in fear. Creepy grandma really blew it out of the water.
The two sibling protagonists Rebecca and Tyler, aged 12 and 8 respectively, were not annoying at all but incredibly intelligent, funny, and precocious kids. Rebecca was the slightly uptight older sister with a huge interest in 'organic filmmaking', which is why she wants to document the visit.
Tyler is an adorable aspiring rapper whose witty lines and cheesy smile steals the show. Both characters really drove the film and sparkled with their banter, sarcasm, and occasional rap sessions. They were developed well enough for us to truly care about them.
There were of course a number of jump-scares in the movie, but Shyamalan manages to gradually and consistently build up suspense, keeping whatever it was that was wrong with grandma and grandpa a total secret until the final climax - which is awesome because you keep trying to guess what it is, and for some time, I still believed that supernatural elements might have been at play. Thankfully, there were no stupid supernatural cop-outs in the movie and everything that went 'wrong' was purely human.
Anyway. What a great, fun and truly enjoyable movie. Diehard horror movie fans - don't be put off. This is still one that is able to supply the thrills and scares.