A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced By: Marc Bienstock
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Olivia Dejonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Running Time: 94 Minutes
There are few directors who can claim to have had a bigger fall from grace than poor M. Night Shyamalan. Once referred to as “The Next Spielberg”, the man all too quickly became “The Next Jason Friedberg” (the one responsible for those “Movie” movies).
There is no doubt that the infamous director reached his lowest point a few years ago with “After Earth”, so surely the only way was up when thinking about his next project. September 2015 has arrived and so has “The Visit”, his latest self-funded, found-footage picture that is definitely a refreshing return to form and also a film he is proud enough to attach his name to.
Although not brilliant, masterful and groundbreaking like his debut feature, Shyamalan has returned and has set himself back on the right path, hopefully recapturing the support of the millions he progressively managed to disappoint over the years, one film at a time.
The story of The Visit revolves around two siblings, Becca and Tyler, (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who travel to visit their grandparents (whom they’ve never met before) for a week in an isolated town surrounded by ominous, snowy forestation. Over the course of the week, the grandparents begin to show signs of abnormality, making the children increasingly suspicious.
Talking with their mother (Kathryn Hahn) via Skype and expressing their concerns, they’re told that it’s simply old age at play and that there’s nothing to worry about, however as the days pass, circumstances become tense, threatening and creepy…
The Visit is a genuinely scary affair, and don’t let people tell you otherwise. Like Signs and The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan keeps the audience on edge with drawn out scenes, whilst correctly utilising the found-footage format and extracting sensational performances from his leading cast.
What audiences may not expect however, is that The Visit is a comedy as much as it is a horror picture. It is an intentionally funny film with solid humour blended throughout, most of which comes from Oxenbould’s Tyler, an aspiring rapper (yes, that’s right…).
Through some purposeful editing, self-awareness and solid performances, the humour works within The Visit, which could definitely be indicative of Shyamalan answering his critics.
The documentary aspect of the film is presented through Becca’s interests in filmmaking. She is wanting to make a documentary about her family and seeks to capture beautiful images wherever she can, all the while unearthing the truth from her family about certain events.
Although her encyclopaedic dialogue can at times be irritating, her character does serve as a point of difference in comparison to the other central leads which creates a sense of balance within the picture.
The Visit is anything but a perfect film; it has major flaws and inconsistencies. For example, there are several scenes and lines of dialogue devoted to character development which seem a bit too unnecessary to begin with, however most of the time the follow scene will contradict the character trait entirely.
It’s either that or the idiosyncrasy is never mentioned again and leaves the audience curious as to why it was deemed important to establish in the first place.
Furthermore, when the film picks up and becomes a tense, eerie horror film, certain conventional strategies seep in and ultimately render the scene predictable and dull, with the audience anticipating a cheap jump scare or something similar.
Little gripes such as these are what ultimately let the film down, but it’s important to remind oneself of how enjoyable The Visit actually is, especially given it’s an M. Night Shyamalan picture!
The Visit will definitely regenerate some buzz around the formerly relevant Shyamalan and hopefully get the ball rolling once again. It’s a true credit to the man that he has taken it upon himself to craft a self-funded, self-written and directed picture that sees him returning to his roots of low-budget, independent filmmaking.
He has returned admirably and can hopefully continue to impress, perhaps even reaching the levels of his glorious, former self upon his next visit.