It's hard to talk about any M. Night films these days without
discussing his career trajectory, how he started off incredibly strong
with a triple knockout of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, only
to have his potential squandered, or at least questioned, with films
like The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth. As a fan of
Shyamalan myself, even I had to admit that he may have lost his luster.
With that being said, I'm overjoyed and elated to say that The Visit is
Shyamalan's best film since The Village over 10 years ago (my personal
favorite). And it's not so bad it's good. The Visit is a legitimately
good film, with great performances, terrific setups and even better
payoffs, and an overall simple but satisfying story, which is all
Shyamalan needs right now.
It's difficult to say much about the story without revealing too much, because The Visit is essentially the type of film where it's better the less you know going in. It's not to say the film is filled with plot twists left and right, but how cleverly it subverts expectations, especially based on the film's misleading marketing campaign. Let this be known: The Visit is a horror AND comedy. It's downright hilarious (intentionally so) during a majority of the film but also equally scary and creepy, which is what M. Night is known for. I was laughing hysterically and screaming, sometimes at the same time! The success of the film is how effectively it jumps in between the two genres and frequently on the dime. The third act showcases this in the best possible way and in full Shyamalan fashion.
Though there are plenty of laughs and screams to be had, The Visit is also filled with surprising moments of drama. There are, at the very least, three genuinely beautiful scenes. One of those involves a zoom in of a certain character, and it's utterly heartbreaking. Credit must be given to Shyamalan who manages to get great performances from his actors, a welcome change after the stilted and wooden performances in his last few films. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould play the leads, and they're completely likable in their roles. Oxenbould, in particular, steals every scene he's in, providing many of the film's biggest laughs. Seriously, the jokes in here are funnier than most comedies released these days. Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie are also rightfully creepy as the kids' offbeat grandparents. Last but not least, Kathryn Hahn leaves a great impression, despite the limited screen time she has. She's truly wonderful here.
Overall, The Visit is ridiculously entertaining and a total crowd pleaser. It's the film we were all hoping for Shyamalan to make to get him out of the slump. No, it's not as great as his first four films, but it's a step towards the right direction. Recently, it's been revealed that he'll reunite with producer Jason Blum and Joaquin Phoenix for a new project. If it's another low budget feature like The Visit, which it most likely will be, we might be witnessing an era of Shyamalascance. After all, going back to basics is his greatest asset right now. Who says horror/comedy can't work?
UPDATE: The film is even better the second time around, and I noticed a lot of details I missed during the first viewing. There's even clever meta humor sprinkled throughout that might not be apparent at first. Additionally, I'd like to put a spotlight on Deanna Dunagan, who I didn't give enough credit to beforehand. She was fantastic. How great and fulfilling it is for an actress her age to have a role that is complicated and complex as is the character of Nana, to be sweet and motherly in one scene only to switch (convincingly) to creepy and insane the next. In one especially dramatic scene, you will even ache for her. Only if you stop to think will you notice the many layers Dunagan has to play with, and for that reason, she should be praised.
Comedy / Horror / Thriller
Comedy / Horror / Thriller
Two children are sent to their grandparents house to spend a week with their grandparents while their single mom goes on a relaxing vacation with her boyfriend. One of the kids, Becca, decides to film a documentary about her grandparents in order to help her mom reconnect with her parents and also find out some things about her parents as well. While filming the documentary, however, Becca and her little brother, Tyler, discover a dark secret about their grandparents.
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December 20, 2015 at 05:08 PM