5 Reasons The Visit Will Restore Your Faith In M. Night Shyamalan
Here’s a twist even more shocking than every one of M. Night Shyamalan’s climaxes combined: the guy’s actually made a decent new movie. There was a time when studios would boldly announce Shyamalan’s name on a poster, but that’s no longer the case. In the wake of two humongous big budget flops (The Last Airbender and After Earth), marketing for The Visit has tactfully kept Shyamalan’s name in a tiny font near the bottom of the poster. But surprise, surprise, the film turns out to be a satisfying return to the director’s modestly budgeted horror-thriller roots that earned him several Oscar nods and launched his career.
Without spoiling the big twist (this is a Shyamalan joint, after all), The Visit tells the story of two siblings (one a budding filmmaker, the other a budding wankster) who go on a week-long trip to their estranged Nana and Pop Pop’s isolated farm in snowy Pennsylvania. Things start out relatively weird, then get a little weirder, and then go totally off the rails. Suffice to say, I can’t guarantee these kids make it home safe and sound. Regardless of that outcome, here are five reasons The Visit will restore your faith in its dubious director.
If you’re the kind of person who gets a kick out of jump scares, you better hold on to your popcorn, because there are just too many to count here. While a handful of these scares are a bit on the cheap side, there are more than enough genuinely good ones that’ll have you leaping out of your seat. Also, unlike many of today’s horror fodder, the tension moves at a nice, relaxed pace, which makes the freaky stuff all the more effective.
Yep, this is also a comedy, albeit a pretty dark one. In fact, some of the film’s best moments are simultaneously scary and silly and disgusting, which isn’t an easy thing to pull off. And while much of the humour is deliberate, some of Shyamalan’s typically dopey exposition might have you snickering, even if that’s not what he intended. But who cares, we’re here to have a good time.
It’s got a great cast
While Olivia DeJonge is aces as a prodigious documentarian, Ed Oxenbould frequently steals the movie as her wise-cracking little brother, who happens to be a fairly talented rapper. The little dude’s lisp-y rhymes are legitimately impressive, and he also comes up with the smart idea of yelling out the names of female pop singers in place of swear words. Funnier than it sounds, trust me. As Nana and Pop Pop, seasoned actors Deanna Dunagan (who’s won a Tony) and Peter McRobbie are equally great on both the comedy and horror front, turning a climactic family game of Yahtzee into a nerve-racking freak show.
It’s a clever update on a tired gimmick
In case the trailer and involvement of Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum didn’t give it away. The Visit is essentially a found-footage film. But fear not, Shyamalan cunningly frames the film from the lens of a 15-year-old aspiring filmmaker and her younger brother, who also wields a camcorder. The overall look of the film is far more polished than you’d expect, and the setup—which we won’t spoil—is just as credible. It also helps that the film’s cinematographer previously shot for Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, and Darren Aronofsky.
It’s got a satisfying twist
This is hard to discuss without giving away any plot-ruining spoilers, but let’s just say the twist here is far and away more coherent than, say, the end of Signs. We know Shyamalan just can’t help himself and needs to throw in a twist ending, but the credibility of this film hinges entirely on what the hell is going on with the grandparents, and the upshot is far more intelligent than what we’ve come to expect from the guy who made a movie in which H20-intolerant space invaders didn’t notice the planet they were attacking was 71 per cent water-based.
The Visit haunts theatres tomorrow. Watch the trailer here.