The Visit doesn't hit theaters until Friday, Sept. 11, but, if you're anything like me, it's already giving you nightmares. Ads for the newest M. Night Shyamalan film, about a pair of siblings whose visit to their grandparents turns to terror, are everywhere. The movie joins horror film hits Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project with its found footage-style scares — the eldest of the siblings, Becca (Olivia DeJonge), is an aspiring filmmaker making a documentary about her visit with her grandparents. But just how scary is The Visit, really? Or, perhaps more to the point, how scary is The Visit supposed to be?
Shyamalan is known for his twisty thrillers, most notably The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village, and, unfortunately, his box office bombs, most recently After Earth and The Last Airbender. The Visit marks a brand new chapter for Shyamalan, though. Marketed strictly as a horror film, The Visit is surely going to attract a specific scare-loving demographic... and whatever unlucky friends they drag along. If you are one such friend, never fear, Shyamalan himself has promised that the film isn't all surprising scares and frightening lighting — it's also funny.
"My favorite thing is to watch this movie with an audience because they literally don't know how to react to it. They feel like: 'Is it appropriate to laugh here? Is it appropriate to be laughing at this?' And they they let go. They realize it's the actual intention of the film to make you scream and laugh almost at the same time," Shyamalan said in an interview with Hero Complex.
The humor, it seems, lies in how absurd the horror is. As Lucy O'Brien of IGN put it in her review of the film, "The scares in The Visit are relentless and utterly ridiculous, but that's the point. What separates The Visit's flavour of horror from Shyamalan's previous efforts is an enormous sense of fun."
The Visit might be humorous, but it does still play on psychological fears — after all, it is still a horror movie. "The movie is entirely about playing on all of our fears — both how we find them ridiculous and how we're terrified by them and what happens to our minds and our bodies when we get old," Shyamalan told Hero Complex.
Based on Shyamalan's statements, and the (much appreciated) lack of sharp weapons in the trailers, it's safe to assume that The Visit does not rely on gore to be scary — more The Ring, less Hostel.
So, for tentative audiences who might enjoy psychological thrillers, but hate blood, The Visit might be worth the risk. However, if psychological thrillers aren't your thing (or if you, like me, can't look at the GIF above without feeling a strong desire to shut your laptop), you might be better off cuddling on your bed with some Netflix.
Images: Universal Pictures; Giphy