Horror movie misses the mark

"The Visit" in theaters since Sept. 11. Used with permission from Universal Studios.

By Nayeli Lara, Sports Editor

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As Halloween approaches, countless horror movies will make their way to theaters. “The Visit” markets itself as another scary movie, but that genre doesn’t quite fit.

“The Visit” is the story of two children who have never met their grandparents before due to a frayed relationship with their mother. The daughter, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker and enlists her younger brother, Tyler, to help her make a documentary on what caused the fallout between her mother and grandparents.

Found footage films gained popularity in 2007 with the first Paranormal Activity, then quickly lost its appeal after three Paranormal Activity sequels and an upcoming fifth movie. Yet, “The Visit” does found footage in a more subtle style. The camera is shaky at times, but the quality is much higher than other films like Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project. The act of making a documentary makes the plot flow much smoother than other films.

Becca conducts several interviews of the characters in the movie, including the grandparents, and the audience is able to experience the deeper psychological theme of the movie.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, “The Visit” is more conceptual than what its trailers suggest. Unlike many horror movies, the characters are dynamic and intriguing.

With a run time of 94 minutes the backstories are often rushed and might be missed for some of the more complex characters if you’re not paying attention, but each character is a carefully crafted piece of the story.

The plot depends heavily on the deeper emotional and mental traits of the characters, and the trademark Shyamalan plot twist speaks to how essential character development is.

Becca and Tyler make humourous narrators and offer comedic relief throughout the  movie.  At times the comedy can be slapstick and overdone, but laughter was common in the theater. Given how farfetched the topic of evil grandparents is, it’s not surprising that the film acts as more as a comedy than a horror film for much of the run time.

The jump scares were also more humorous than scary. I was shocked when a group of girls in the theater  jumped enough to spill their bucket of popcorn all over the seats. Much of the horror scenes were tame and anticlimactic. Just when you are sure something is about to happen, the footage cuts and lessens the tension.

A PG-13 rating means “The Visit” is not a classic slasher movie with tons of gore, but it also does not really hit the mark as a horror movie.  Certain parts made me close my eyes and look away, but I was never really terrified.

Yet even with the overall lack of violence, I was surprised  at the rating. The average high schooler has seen a lot, but I definitely questioned how some scenes didn’t elevate the rating to R.

While “The Visit” isn’t your typical scare-you-out-of-your-wits story, it does what a movie is supposed to do, entertain. I enjoyed the entire movie, from the cheesy comedy, to the emotional backstories of the characters that made me care if they lived or not, to the few parts that had me sitting with my hands over my face in fear.

“The Visit” might not rank high up on Shyamalan best  movies list, or be the scariest horror film of the season, but overall it makes for a worthwhile movie to pass an hour and a half on a weekend.