Review: After being lambasted for back-to-back sci-fi blockbuster backlash – The Last Airbender and After Earth, M. Night Shyamalan, the once auteur and Oscar-caliber director, returns to his most favorable genre, mystery thriller, in The Visit.
Joining force with Blumhouse, Shyamalan takes advantages from single location formula, effective mockumentary style and low-budget freedom to make a fun mystery joyride, which might remind viewers to the good ol’ days.
One thing that makes The Visit different from any of Shyamalan’s twisting works lies on its simplicity. How Shyamalan works on his bland script to create a fresh thriller might look ridiculous and absurd on the paper, but the execution really probes a real excitement if you like hide and seek kind of mystery thriller. To make it even joyful, Shyamalan sets the whole tone in a more comic relief one to balance with some occasional burst of scare – that unfortunately doesn’t really work.
Pairing two unfamiliar young talents with particular amount of confidence, Shyamalan sends his two pawns – Becca (Olivia DeJonge), a 15-year-old girl with special interest in cinematography and obsession to documentary, and her brother, Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), a 13-year-old boy with interest in rap and phobia of germs – to meet grandparents they never seen before. Their grandparents, Nana (Deanna Dugan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), seem like a straight-good old people living in countryside with happy but old-school rules. Those who are familiar with Shyamalan’s works might have seen the twist coming; but Shyamalan seems like refusing to give in as he plays along to keep the mystery alive and, surprisingly, fun.
In the end, the final twist might feel underwhelming but this time Shyamalan wins for it’s not his ‘main course’ just like he always does. One key point of The Visit that makes it works is: the old people’s charming performance. As pivotal figures to the story-telling, they really have taken Shyamalan’s script into a living peculiarity. The two teenagers also give groundbreaking innovation to the perspective of horror’s victims – unlimited curiosity and, most importantly, silly nature in coping up with the plot.
The Visit is clearly not a big return for Shyamalan to his name-making genre; but it certainly deserves a very warm welcome.
The Visit (2015)