M. Night Shyamalan made a decent movie, what a twist!
Yeah, you read that correctly. The Visit is an M. Night Shyamalan movie that’s actually pretty good. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good!
The story is that two kids, Rebecca and Tyler, are off to visit their grandparents. They’ve never met Nana and Pop Pop, they had a falling out with their daughter, the kids mother, before the kids were born. They arrive at the grandparents isolated farm and it becomes clear pretty quick that not everything is quite right with Nana and Pop Pop.
THe story plays out as a found footage story, Rebecca is the precocious teen with aspirations of being a filmmaker and she’s making a documentary about meeting her grandparents for the first time and to find out what happened between them and her mother.
I’m not going to go into much of the particulars here because this is the kind of movie that relies on jump scares and tension building, but suffice to say it does pretty well at all that kind of stuff and that’s thanks in large part to Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as the grandparents. She’s a stage star and he’s that guy you’ve seen in that thing that time, and they’re both able to shift gears on a dime from quirky but well-meaning old folks to what-the-fuck-did-I-just watch creepy when the script calls for it. Dunagan in particular manages to establish Nana as sweet but menacing almost from frame one.
The kids are good in their own right, too. They have great American accents (they’re Aussies!) and they’re both good actors, but your milage may vary depending on how you react to kids in films. Ed Oxenbould is likely going to be the make or break for many of you since he’s the younger of the two and his character is a wanna be YouTube rapper who goes by T-Diamond Stylus, and he raps several times in the movie.
The film is well put together, too! Shyamalan is going for childhood fears here and it works! The big twist isn’t even a twist, it’s a reveal that the entire movie builds to. You might be able to figure out what’s going on, it’s pretty heavily telegraphed, but just the fact that it’s a functional story with a well conceived emotional core is kind of a revelation from a director who’s become pretty famous for not doing those things. It’s funny too, and not unintentionally so! The films tone is lighthearted and at times laugh out loud funny!
Look I can’t promise you you’re going to like this movie but I never can. I can tell you that it turns out if you take away his budget and force him to think smaller scale it turns out M. Night Shyamalan can make a decent film.