HOLLYWOOD—Can you believe it, M. Night Shyamalan is back with another thriller? This is the guy who produced one of the best twists in movie history in “The Sixth Sense.” Since that movie’s debut back in 1999, Shyamalan has had terrible success at the box-office with flicks like “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” “The Happening,” “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth.” So is his latest outing “The Visit” yay or nay?
Well, let’s say this is a massive improvement over his previous fare. For starters, it’s a thriller and it can be categorized as a horror flick with comedic overtones. The premise is quite simple, two kids, Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are prepping to visit their grandparents for the week, portrayed by Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan. It’s an opportunity for their mother, Paula (Kathryn Hahn) to spend some alone time with her new boyfriend.
Trust me; we all know the feeling of having to “stay” with our grandparents. As a kid it was something I used to fight tooth and nail to prevent from happening. In most cases things turned out okay, the same can’t be said for Rebecca and Tyler. An interesting facet of the movie involves the kids chronicling their visit to their grandparent’s house in a documentary; wise choice considering they have never come face-to-face with their grandparents in their entire life.
It doesn’t help matters that Paula hasn’t seen her parents in years either, after an incident she refuses to further elaborate on with her children. That peaks the interest of Rebecca who is quite inquisitive to the things going on around her. Upon arrival at their grandparent’s house, the kids learn things are not as they seem. They are informed to not venture into the basement and most important of all that bedtime is at 9:30 p.m., after that time they should not venture out of their bedrooms. Now, what do you think will happen if you tell a child not to do something? They are going to do the exact opposite, which leads to the fun in “The Visit.”
Shyamalan who wrote, directed and produced the picture interjects wit, fear and some downright disturbing moments in a way that will leave theatergoers on the edge of your seat. Is there a twist towards the end of the movie? Of course there is, but I digress from divulging what transpires because while it’s not “Sixth Sense” jaw-dropping, it does throw the viewer for a loop.
My only gripe with “The Visit” is that it comes across at times as a bit schlocky and as a spectator it’s hard to take things seriously, but at the same time, it’s difficult to remove your eyes from the movie screen. You want to see what other kookiness and absurdity will occur. DeJonge and Oxenbould are perfect casting in the movie and bring life to characters that are a lot smarter than what people might give them credit for in the beginning.
“The Visit”, while not director Shymalan’s best work, does prove to fans that he is still capable of crafting an effective thriller, even if there’s a bit more comedy than one expects.