Film - The Visit

The Visit

Nate McKenzie takes a look at M. Night Shyamalan's latest film The Visit to see whether he is a film maker back on form...

I will admit right up front that, for myself, M. Night Shyamalan was never gone.

Lady In The Water was a beautiful representation of a grown-up fairy tale. The Village was brooding and tense, yet, it gets a bad wrap for a twist that some people claim was obvious. I challenge anyone who says they figured out that reveal to take a stab at the Dresden Codex because you'd have to be the worlds greatest cryptographer to have cracked that code. Signs may have had plot-holes (of which film hipsters are so apt to bitch and moan) but it had merit in some deeply creepy moments, and introspection, even if it was, overall, a thinly sliced bit of cheese.

After Earth may have been nothing more than a studio paycheck for Shymalan but I found it to be a delightful family friendly SciFi romp. Every movie doesn't have to be Citizen Kane. Or the Sixth Sense for that matter. The Happening was... ok, The Happening was as forced as Mark Wahlberg's dramatic acting. Even Zooey Daschanel's eyes couldn't save that roller pigeon from bashing itself into the ground. Likewise, we could talk about The Last Airbender but my therapist and I have agreed that I should limit the negativity I allow that movie to impress upon my life, so I won't go there.

Shyamalan is not the bad film epidemic that the internet's snark consortium would have you believe. He has an eye for actor directing that most directors don't even bother with any more, as they rely so heavily on CGI and editing to overcome flaws in a film. Even in his movies that were legitimate duds, M. Night was able to pull out some solid performances from his casts. (Except Wahlberg. But no one can make that guy seem like a real actor.) He has a flair for turning your perception on its head, and creating palpable moods with his delicate attention to mise en scene.

All of these strengths are not only on full display in his newest film, The Visit, they are expertly melded together to make one of the best creep-tastic horror films I've seen in a long time.

The film is centred around a brother and sister taking a week to excise themselves from their mothers life in order for her to spend some time with her new love interest. The two children, Becca and Tyler, decide to spend a week with their estranged Nana and Pop Pop at their house in the country. And that's when things get weird. Nana and Pop Pop are... freaky. Not in an Eyes Wide Shut kind of way, but in a Grandma is crawling around in the crawlspace under the house kind of way. The kids are told to stay out of the basement because of "mould" so I immediately assumed the kids would end up in the basement at some point. Pop Pop also made quiet trips to a shed on the edge of the property where Tyler ends up investigating at one point. Shyamalan often bolsters his narrative with misdirection and confusion, dropping bits and pieces of the puzzle into odd places and then explaining them with simple, practical reasoning - before he blindsides you with a twist that leaves you curled up in a fetal position questioning if anything is what it seems.

There is no way to further elaborate on what happens in the film without spoiling much of it.

I will say that one of the scenes towards the end is one of the grossest scenes I've ever seen on film. I actually am physically affected by the thought of it. You'll know it when you see it.

The Babadook has been lauded as a brilliant film, and rightly so. But I have to wonder... if Shyamalan had written and directed it, would it have earned the respect that it has? The Visit is a good litmus test for this question because it has all the elements that made The Babadook so great, yet it also has the stigma of being attached to the Shyamalan franchise.

The Visit is this years surprise horror hit and will become a part of Halloween viewing parties for years to come as a part of the respected scare-fest cult canon.

I say, emphatically: Welcome back Mr. Shyamalan.

Image - IMDb.