Review – “The Visit” is a Return to Form for M. Night Shyamalan

Here’s a film history lesson for you.  In 1999, director M. Night Shyamalan released his first monumental film “The Sixth Sense”.  It was a massive success, both at the box office and with awards, and launched Shyamalan on to the Hollywood scene.  That same year, a groundbreaking horror film titled “The Blair Witch Project” came out and brought the found footage horror genre into the mainstream.

Since 1999 however, neither Shyamalan nor the found-footage horror genre have had the same success.  Shyamalan followed “The Sixth Sense” with two very good movies in “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Signs” (2002), a decent movie, “The Village” (2004), and then a streak of terrible movies with “Lady in the Water” (2006), “The Happening” (2008), “The Last Airbender” (2010), and “After Earth”(2013). These films would make Shyamalan box office poison and a laughing stock of cinema.  The found footage horror genre has seen a couple ups, like “Paranormal Activity” (2009), and “V/H/S” (2012), but has far too many downs and is now an overused, cheap gimmick for studios to make a quick buck.

Now with “The Visit”, M. Night Shyamalan tries his hand at the found footage horror genre, which on paper, should have been a train wreck based on the state of the genre and Shyamalan’s career.  Much to my surprise, it is not.  In fact, “The Visit” one of the best found footage horror films to date and by far Shyamalan’s best film in over a decade.

“The Visit” shows us “footage” caught by Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) on their week long vacation visiting their grandparents (Deanna Dungan and Peter McRobbie) for the time ever.  During their visit, the grandparents start behaving weirdly, which causes concern for the kids, as they try to figure if it is just old age or if their is something more making them act this way.

This film is a true testament to the Shymalan we all loved from “The Sixth Sense”.  “The Visit” is an unsettling movie that had me on edge the entire time.  Shymalan knows how to build suspense and he does it from scene to scene.  It helps that the movie has a decent amount of funny moments that allows us to settle for only a moment until the next startling scene happens.  He also made Dungan and McRobbie the creepiest old couple on screen since Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer from “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968).  They creep, linger, and scare the hell out us the entire film.  It’s a blast to watch.

In typical Shymalan form, there is a twist ending and unlike his last few twists, this one lands perfectly.  I had an inkling suspicion what it was for about half the movie, but the movie had me hooked the entire time that when it hit, I was still surprised.  Throughout the movie, I was thinking to myself, “that would be an awesome ending.” and then it happened and I was as happy as ever.  This is the best Shyamalan twist since “The Sixth Sense” and he hides it brilliantly until the moment, which leads to a disturbing and genuinely scary climactic ending.

There are certain scenes in the movie that I didn’t really care for, particularly the very end, which kind of ruined the feeling the previous scene had left on me.  But, those few scenes aside, “The Visit” is well worth seeing.  It is a shocking, thrilling horror film that will disturb you and scare the daylights out of you.  This also shows promise for the future of M. Night Shyamalan and shows us that he still has some genius left in him.  I am now officially excited for what he will do next.

MY RATING – 3/4

For more movie news and reviews, follow me on Twitter @kevinwoz2988.

Images courtesy of YouTube via MovieClips Trailers.

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