Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Visit by M. Night Shyamalan

It's a delight to report that M. Night Shyamalan is back on form. After a major success with his breakout third feature The Sixth Sense in 1999, Shyamalan seemed to be on course to become a reliable writer-director of offbeat hits. His 2004 film The Village is a particular favourite of mine, wickedly clever and beautifully crafted. 

But immediately after The Village, things began to go wrong for M. Night. Lady in the Water had its moments, but also showed signs of a decline into oddity and incoherence. And after that it was all downhill (I give you The Happening, The Last Airbender (!) and After Earth).

Things had reached such a sorry pass that when I learned The Visit (which, from its pre-publicity, had intrigued me) was an M. Night Shyamalan film I was tempted to give it a miss... I'm very glad I didn't and I'm genuinely pleased that this talented writer is back in the game.

The greatest strength of The Visit is that it's funny. Shyamalan seems to have rediscovered his sense of humour. I've heard the movie described as a horror comedy, and that's not far off the mark.

Telling the story of two kids visiting their grandparents, it's another in the "found footage" genre where everything has supposedly been recorded by the participants. This a restrictive convention and The Visit suffers from it a little, but not enough to matter.

It's a chamber piece, with basically four characters, two youngsters and two oldsters. All the parts are beautifully cast, but the kids (played by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) are particularly good — and very likeable (how often do you say that about children in a movie?). This had the considerable bonus of me actually caring about their fate.

Like The Sixth Sense and The Village, The Visit has a huge built-in twist. Like The Sixth Sense (and very much unlike The Village) you can see it coming a mile off. But that doesn't matter. This movie is great, scary fun.

I enjoyed The Visit a lot and commend it to you, especially if like me you had lost faith in M. Night Shyamalan. Welcome back, Night.

(Image credits: the posters, a sparse handful, are all from the reliable Imp Awards.)

6 comments:

  1. I really like The Village, and feel it's a great shame it gets so much flak from so many quarters. I can't help but wonder if the criticism it garnered effected much of his subsequent career. Nice to hear he's turned out another good one

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    1. I think The Village is his masterpiece! A great movie. Film critics don't know anything, at least about films...

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  2. I'm a huge Shyamanlan fan. I know he hasn't been so lucky with his latest projects but I have a good feeling about The Visit. I'll definitely see it. By the way, I just read your post about The Man from UNCLE and it was great. I just wrote about it in my blog (wich I encourage you to visit):

    www.artbyarion.blogspot.com

    I hope you enjoy my review, and please feel free to leave me a comment over there or add yourself as a follower (or both), and I promise I'll reciprocate.

    Cheers,

    Arion.

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    1. Many thanks -- apologies for the late reply, I have yet to work out how to automatically be notified when people comment on my blog! Your own blog is magnificent, and I'm in awe of the work you must put into it. Best, Andrew

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