“The Visit” – M. Night’s return

The Visit

From IMDB:

A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Writer:

M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay)

Stars:

Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan

The visit

So this is the long-awaited return of M. Night Shyamalan, whose welcome seemed to be over after his last few films, which were neither critically nor commercially well-received.
When I first saw the ads for The Visit, I wasn’t sold on seeing it, but as I saw more of them, and they inevitably showed differing material, I wanted to see it more and more. I didn’t even realize that it was an M. Night production until last week, and by then I already knew I was going to catch an early screening.
Co-produced by Blumhouse, known for their “found footage” style films like Paranormal Activity and other horror films such as Sinister and Insidious. I wasn’t sure how his storytelling would hold up in such a limited POV. It could have been either a stroke of genius or someone having a stroke when they green-lit the project.
I needed have worried.
Viscerally, I really enjoyed the film. Nana and Pop-pop were super creepy, and the kids displayed the relationship that only siblings can have, alternately harassing and protecting one another. The environment was both peaceful, and yet unnerving. I like the atmosphere of the film, and maybe that biases me a little bit.
But I will freely admit that, technically, the film isn’t perfect. Even at an hour and thirty-ish minutes, it felt a little rushed, leaving out some of Night’s trademark bread-crumb development that leads inexorably to some revelation at the end. There is a hint of that in a couple of exchanges between siblings Becca and Tyler, but it doesn’t seem like there’s enough of it to justify the spin at the end. Ultimately, it feels like the cuts were made to emphasize the scare at the expense of the characters.
There isn’t some Sixth Sense sized twist in this one, either: you can spot the ending if you look for it. It just feels like maybe he was forced to make some cuts to get to a more scary-movie audience friendly length.
I’d like to see what hit the cutting room floor.
Some people will tell you not to see it. Honestly, this one will probably get tossed into the pile of love-it/hate-it that his last few films landed in. It’s not nearly as good as The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable, but it is vastly better than The Happening and Lady in the Water.
I enjoyed it, so if you’ve read any of my other movie reviews and agreed with them, maybe you’ll agree with this one.
If not…
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