There are few names in Hollywood as synonymous with being so woefully terrible as M. Night Shyamalan. Now as a man he seems to be a genuinely terrific person so this is in no way an attack on him as a human being. But as a filmmaker it’s clear he has lost something since his auspicious debut with The Sixth Sense. He continued that success and originality with the highly underrated thrillers Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. After that something happened and his career trajectory spiraled down in a firestorm of awfulness. It is my hope with his newest potential tragedy, The Visit, that a possible miracle will occur and his creativeness that he seems to have lost will somehow return to him. It’s been a decade of horrendous storytelling and atrocious acting that all accumulated into a number of unimaginably, impossibly dreadful movies (Last Airbender 2 is in the works, yeah think about that for a while). My long gestating point is this man could really use a win.
Is The Visit a win? Not exactly. I went into this with a mindset that everything I was about to experience was going to be an utter affront to all I’ve come to love about movies. So with such low expectations this movie virtually had nowhere to go but up. Having said this I can only review the movie from my perspective (obviously). And for my money it was worth the time and attention. I said it wasn’t exactly a win and it’s not but I think it’s quite possibly a good sign of things to come for him; sans Last Airbender 2.
While this particular M. Night jaunt is far superior than his last few lack-of-efforts there are still some all too familiar blunders that seem to plague his movies. The most obvious to me was the dialogue; while it was humorous at times it rarely felt natural. One teenager uses vocabulary that normally emanates from someone trying to write a novel. That’s not to say there aren’t intelligent teens but no one can argue that it’s not exactly commonplace. And it’s not just that this character uses ten syllable words forcibly but she uses them constantly almost in some attempt to impress someone. Considering the only people around are her brother, mother and grandparents it’s a little out of place (in my opinion). And then there’s the brother character… Arguably the best character in the film he still talks in a way that feels like Shyamalan is trying to connect to a younger, dumber audience; an audience that uses “words” like yolo and bae with a straight face. But unlike The Crappening (The Happening) this lack of realism in the dialogue is a miniscule issue that doesn’t hurt the movie enough to take anything substantial away from it. Like I said though, he is the best character by far.
With The Visit, Shyamalan has introduced a new handicap into his arsenal of “less than desirable” and that is found footage. Someone I saw the movie with made a good point that despite the tiresome application of found footage, this movie was able to surpass that self-hindrance well enough. That being said just good enough to work using an overused film style isn’t exactly praiseworthy to say the least. Despite all of these missteps The Visit still worked for me.
Predictable at times it still manages to create an air of tension and creepiness. And while the aim is in fact to thrill the audience there is also a welcomed element of comedy thrown in. The two actors that play the grandparents are just strange enough to make viable antagonists to two younger people. The idea that two generations separated by so much time simply don’t understand one another is put to good use allowing for explanations of odd behavior that make it mostly believable that the overall mystery could stay hidden. One character acts strange and another is able to explain away the oddity. Some of the explanations are a bit of a stretch but you kind of just have to go with it if you’re hoping to get anything out of it.
Finally I just have this to say: Yes, this is a Shyamalan movie. No, he hasn’t exactly earned our trust that last decade or so but I urge you at the very least to give the man and his newest movie a chance. That’s all, just a chance. I can’t guarantee anything of course but at least you can say you tried which is more than fair for a man who gave us such classics as After Earth, The Happening and of course The Last Airbender among other oh so craptastic shitfests. The Visit is hindered a bit by the found footage approach but overall I enjoyed this creepy thriller-comedy about killer grandparents. I fear I might find myself alone in this when the movie is released. Oh well, I’ve already admitted my shame. Come what may.
Rated PG-13 For: disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language
Runtime: 94 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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