For me M. Night Shyamalan never was a hack or sell out although at times he made me scream at the screen for some poor endings of films he directed. The Happening, Signs and Devil come to mind. I haven't seen After Earth yet and I probably never will but for now I will follow the popular criticism that it was terrible. So it seems to me that he had to redeem himself and show people he can be a good film maker. And he has done so with The Visit.
I am not particularly fond of found footage films. So I was a little surprised to see that format being used. But a very good decision in this case since it does add to the creepiness in a major way. The real brilliance of this film is how it keeps you in the dark and puts you on the edge of your seat to find out of what is going on. Even when you suspect a little something happens that makes you change your mind. A lot of themes or critiques pass by which could be hints or misdirections. You simply don't know until you get the reveal. There are only a few jump scares and surprises but used so sparingly that these are incredible effective. Once the kids are being told they should not leave their rooms after 9:30 p.m. a sense of fear and dread pops up and never goes away until the end. The acting from all the actors is excellent. Especially the kids. In particular Ed Oxenbould who plays Tyler. They make you care for them. Like in most Shyamalan films there is a super twist involved. And it is a very good one. I doubt you will see it coming. I am an avid thriller and horror fan and seen a lot of films in my life so that ought to be telling you something. Only for once the tension and suspense is not solely build on this twist. The dread is still full on or even more so after the reveal. It is at this point you fear the worst and I am telling you it has been a long time ago that a horror film made me feel terror like this.
Now I have seen that this film is also being branded as a horror comedy. While you will laugh for sure I do think that this is more a serious horror film that confronts you with some realism. Like old age, dementia and many other themes. So don't go in expecting something silly.
M. Night Shyamalan has shown that he is a true master of horror and not a one trick pony like many claim. You owe it to yourself to watch this and you will thank me for it because this is easily among the best horror flicks I have seen in a while. Definitely worth your time.