Well, while I continue to ponder over movies made by Mr. Shyamalan, let's take a look at his latest, The Visit.
The Visit is a story about two siblings spending a week at their grandparents', whom they've never met before. Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) manage to convince their divorced mom, who hasn't been in touch with her parents, to let them see their nana and pop-pop for a week while she goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. Becca decides to film everything on their short trip and turn it into a documentary for her mom. After arriving at the remote house where their mom grew up, the kids start spending time with their grandparents, who for some reason (“They’re old!”) keep getting weird. Now it is upto the children to survive the week before things get deadly.
So, if you have seen the trailer or read the short synopsis I wrote here, you’d be wondering why would the grandparents have this crazy streak? Possession? Aliens? (Well that was just me). But the truth is … revealing that would be a spoiler. Infact it is pretty much what keeps the movie going. The Visit is more of a thriller than horror. And take my word, you’ll only enjoy the movie if you don't hear about it. Talking about genre, this is definitely a comedy (verified from IMDB). Even though the trailers shout horror, Shyamalan definitely had something else in mind as the writer. Going back to his roots, we can see Shyamalan come back to his favorite genre: horror. But the comedic tone is impossible to miss, courtesy Tyler, who is an 8 year-old misogynistic rapper. It is amazing to see Ed Oxenbould recite these raps and make you laugh. But then there are scenes which should scare you, but instead you hear this guy sitting behind you laughing (not his fault). I see two reasons for this film being hated. A- Shyamalan’s signature style of a unthinkable twist at the end (e.g. The Village, The Happening); the audience likes a surprise but hates being taken for fools. B- Him painstakingly trying to justify all things in this movie that seem crazy or impossible. A combination of this is definitely going to lead to people calling it his worst movie ever.
But wait! The verdict hasn’t been delivered. Yes yes, I’ve been taking this movie down into the dust for the last three paragraphs, yet it seems unjust to call it a lost cause. There might be just a single ray of hope for the movie. To start with, its different. It’s not your regular ghost in the attic drama. Shyamalan manages to put together a decent back story where he covers different relationships and family issues. The horror, though missing for the most part, does consist of a few scenes that will give you a slight scare. Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie deliver decent performances as nana and pop-pop. And then there’s the saving grace- Kathryn Hahn as the mom. It’s a sight for sore eyes to see her on screen. The name might not be very familiar, but let me assure you, you have seen her on screen recently (Tomorrowland, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, We’re the Millers, Parks and Recreation). And even though my own first reaction to the movie might have been something on the lines of WTF, I now believe that the concept of the movie and the twist are not that bad. Infact, maybe in a different time/situation the concept would have turned into a great final product.
All of that said, should you watch the movie? I’d reply “don’t you have anything else to do?”.
On a more serious note, for the lack of choice and if you are a merciful movie-judge, do give it a chance and maybe you’ll not regret 90 minutes you spend in the theatre or end up liking it if you are a fan of Shyamalan’s recent work.