It’s not “The Sixth Sense”, but it’ll do for now.
In M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film “The Visit,” 15-year old Becca and her 13-year old brother Tyler spend a week with their grandparents in rural Pennsylvania. The siblings have never met their grandparents before, and they at first attribute the elderly couple’s strange behavior to old age.
However, things get weirder with each night before the final freaky Shyamalan twist toward the end of the week’s stay.
The community of film critics has been harsh on M. Night Shamalyan in the last decade or so, and not unfairly. It did not take an expert film critic to understand what a fiasco “The Village” (2004) was. Since the overwhelming success of “The Sixth Sense” (1999), Shyamalan has experienced a bit of a downward spiral, a phenomenon often observed by film critics and journalists with poorly masked malicious glee.
“The Visit” may not be “The Sixth Sense,” but it does seem to hint at Shyamalan finding his way back to audiences–mostly through an odd blend of comedy and horror. If a viewer can put aside smug pretensions about Shyamalan’s supposed failing record, the film will be entertaining.
Admittedly, the movie follows the tiresome, contrived “found footage” format, which fails to acknowledge why a cameraman’s instinct never gives in to fear, especially when that cameraman is an inexperienced teenager in a horrifying situation. And “The Visit” just lacks the actually interesting plot that marked Shyamalan’s first film.
Becca is a bit tiresome as “aspiring young filmmaker,” but that role’s necessity is understandable for the sake of the plot. However, Tyler’s goofiness as “oblivious young white rapper-wannabe” comes off as Shyamalan trying too hard to inject humor. It is hard to actually like the two main characters, youthful innocence be damned. And no one seems offended by the prevalent “They’re just old and weird” theme, which is probably how the movie manages to be longer than half an hour–but maybe no one old enough to be offended has seen it yet. The pair’s cliche “well-meaning trainwreck single mom” pops in only often enough to remind/annoy the audience about the hollow storyline about her estranged history with her mysterious parents.
Still, the film maximizes that feeling that most of us experience but do not admit–old people are creepy. Nana(Deanna Dunagan) is frighteningly convincing at times. There are enough “gotcha” moments to hold an audience’s interest, and enough dark and disturbing footage to be worth the watch.
“The Visit” is just plain, creepy fun.