Once M. Night Shyamalan was Hollywood’s golden boy with critical and commercial successes like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, then came a string of flops that relied too heavily on his infamous twist endings. Now with his new film The Visit will this be a return to form?
Young siblings Becca (Olivia Delonge) and Taylor (Ed Oxenbould) are visiting their grandparents while their mum (Kathryn Hahn) is away. Due to a mysterious falling out between their mum and her parents they haven’t met them before and Becca is filing a documentary about their visit to give her mum some closure. At first Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie) antics appear to be down to being old and eccentric, but then become something much more weirder. What is wrong with their grandparents?
The Visit is not on the same level as The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable but thankfully is much better than Lady in the Water and The Happening. What Shyamalan’s earlier work excelled in was his direction of young talent and Oxenbould and Delonge are fantastic. They are likeable, funny and sympathetic. They made for relatable protagonists and as we’re seeing events through their eyes (or technically through their cameras) if they were unbearable brats then we wouldn’t care what is happening. McRobbie and Dunagan are also well played going effectively between likeably quirky and just plain creepy, while Hahn is also good in her supporting role.
I thought the ‘found footage’ method would annoy me but Shyamalan actually does well in giving the kids reasons to keep the camera working and only a few instances towards the end do you think they should just drop the bloody cameras already. The format also does add tension to many scenes as Becca and Taylor sneak around with their cameras.
Unfortunately I did guess the film’s big twist which made said revelation underwhelming, although I didn’t figure everything out. While there was underlying tension and chills throughout, the film could have been much more scarier to be fully effective. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Shyamalan. Maybe he just needs to cast Bruce Willis in a leading role for his next film to be a smash hit?
Rating 3/5 – for once in a long time Shyamalan has brought us a movie that isn’t a complete chore to watch