The Sixth Sense. Lady in the Water. Signs. Unbreakable. The Village. These are just a few of the legendary filmmaker M. Night Shayamalan’s contemporary classics. But he has had a recent decline in both popularity as well as box office success. Films like The Last Airbender, After Earth, Devil, and The Happening had audiences worldwide wondering if the writer-director-producer had not just hit a rough patch, but perhaps a career-ending one. Then the previews for The Visit started to surface and gain momentum.
And much like his earlier written/directed/produced films, this one proves equal amounts emotional and terrifying. This film does have a genuine additional surprise in not its plot, but its approach to storytelling. The comedy is outmatched by its main character’s performances, especially the newcomers. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould are believable, likable, and surprisingly easy to connect with in moments of intense realism as well as over-the-top absurdity. Added disturbing (in all the right ways) and hilarious (in all the wrong ways) performances from Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie round out a small and somewhat claustrophobic cast. But it is the final sequence, after the horror subsides and the twists and turns come to a screeching halt, where actress Kathryn Hahn shines. She is not in the film for long, but her scenes are powerful, necessary, and serve as a nice bookend to an otherwise good movie.
But in all reality, the two young actors elevate this from a good movie to a great one. It will be interesting to see their respective follow-ups to such a bizarre and altogether Shyamalan film. This will not only potentially launch their budding careers, but it will hopefully restore the director’s legacy. Known for his trademark “twist” endings, it was a pleasant surprise to see this one played fairly safe. It’s not necessarily a discussion-worthy film, but it has a few scares, some great cinematography, and a couple highly memorable performances. Believe the critics and audiences brave enough to give him another shot: M. Night Shayamalan is back.
My Rating: 5/5