Yeeeeeeeeeeeeessss! Finally! Good Shyamalan is back, baby! I mentioned in my Wayward Pines review that the quality of Shyamalan’s films since The Last Airbender was slowly increasing, and based off my intuition and deductions, I created a theory that his next movie would be a suitable addition to his list of movies. I was right! The Visit is written/directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn. Premise-A mother sends her two children to her parents’ house in the wilderness, despite the fact that she resents her parents. However, as the week progresses, the children notice very strange things happening with their grandparents.
I am going to address the negatives first because the positives of this movie FAR outweigh the negatives. Kathryn Hahn is the only actress who gave a poor performance. Every time she tried to act, it just came across as awkward or forced. Besides one or two moments where a joke falls flat, there is nothing else I disliked about this movie.
Let’s start with the acting. Man oh man let me tell you, the actors in this movie are excellent! Dunagan and McRobbie are creepy, sweet, dramatic, and interesting throughout the entire film. Not to say that the two young leads are not equally convincing. Olivia plays a passionate filmmaker who wants the best story she can get while serving as the emotional center of the movie. As for Oxenbould, just, wow! This is the kid who played Alexander from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, yadda, yadda, yadda, I still hate that movie. Let me just say that he is the best part of this movie. He is charming, absolutely hilarious and if this movie doesn’t get him more roles in the future, I am going to be ticked. Secondly, the comedy. The jokes are pretty creative and varied so nearly all of them got everyone in the theatre laughing (including me). Not to say the actual horror aspect of this movie is anything less than ‘quite impressive’. Although this movie has many jokes scattered throughout, it knows when to be funny, and when to be serious, ultimately creating a perfect blend of humor and terrifying drama. Finally, the direction. Because this movie is mostly shot with the ‘found footage’ gimmick, I (among other people) expected this movie to look amateur and annoy me with shaky cam, but no, Shyamalan actually composes some really cool shots, angles, and scares with it. In fact, I think it was a great idea to shoot it that way. Why? Because I believe the story wouldn’t work had it been traditionally filmed.
Speaking of story, this movie’s story is outstanding! I mean that! After nearly a decade of terrible or average films from Shyamalan, he finally did it! He wrote a screenplay that can hold up with his great films! “How the heck can it possibly stand against The Sixth Sense and Signs?” you might ask. For three reasons: the comedy, the characters, and (of course) the story itself. I really want to drive the point home that this is a legitimately funny horror movie! You’ve heard every internet critic make a joke at some point or another about Shyamalan’s unique talent to make something meant to be taken seriously, unintentionally funny (that sums up The Happening in a nutshell). But this time, he is trying to make us laugh, and he succeeds! Another thing most critics (especially myself) have talked about is poor characterization. You know how kids are always acting creepy and unafraid in horror movies? Well guess what, the kids in this movie react exactly like I’d think they would in real life (and both characters are teenagers!). This makes the audience all the more invested because they are likeable, and fun to watch. I’m certain I won’t be giving anything away when I say there is a twist in this movie, but man is it brilliant! This twist makes sense as there were clues that hint towards it (unlike in Devil), and the twist was delivered in a way that respects the audience and doesn’t explain every minute detail (unlike The Village).
I cannot begin to express my full love and surprise for this movie. When I got home I played Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” and danced around for 5 minutes because of how happy I was. To this day, I cannot believe how well this movie turned out. There were a few opportunities for this movie to take a nose dive into cinematic trash: the fact that the budget was only 5 million dollars, a running gag (which I won’t spoil) that would sound annoying on paper (but is in fact, the funniest joke in the movie), and of course, modern-day M. Night Shyamalan writing it. Yet, through all the odds stacked against this movie, it turned out to be even better than I desired it to be. Please watch this movie so we can tell Shyamalan he has been redeemed. The Visit gets Guy’s Guru Grade of an A (never thought I’d be giving one of those to a post Signs Shyamalan film). Also, would somebody please fix Rotten Tomatoes’ poor rating on this movie before I blow a gasket?