Originally published September 14, 2015.
Last week Director M. Night Shyamalan expressed his desire to make more low budget movies.
“The movies I like are much more simple and I feel really comfortable with limitations,” Shyamalan said. “I find that challenge very exciting. I feel I’m going to make more smaller movies.”
If you’ve followed the career of Shyamalan it might be obvious that he’s putting a silver-lining on a situation that is out of his control. The man who helmed “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs” has recently suffered from declining box office and two outright big-budget bombs in “The Last Airbender” and the hideously-bad “After Earth.”
What we’ve discovered in “The Visit” is when you strip away the big budget and the superstar actors, Shyamalan is still a gifted director and screenwriter.
“The Visit” follows two children who are sent on a trip to see their grandparents, while their single mom enjoys a relaxing cruise. One of the kids, Becca, decides to film a documentary of the trip to learn more about her grandparents and her mother. Once they arrive at the remote country location, the kids witness increasingly bizarre behavior from their grandparents.
This is yet another “found footage” film, which has been become entirely too ubiquitous, but if these cheaply-produced movies continue to make big box office we will continue to see them. Shyamalan straddles the line between hand-held and true documentary work, which makes “The Visit” more attractive than most found footage movies (and more watchable).
What may surprise you is this horror thriller has a lot of laughs. In fact “The Visit” manages to move between laughs and thrills effortlessly. The screenplay by Shyamalan is tight, funny and clever.
The two young actors who portray Becca and Tyler are essential to making “The Visit” work. If they weren’t so good in their roles the film would have either collapsed or been unbelievable. Shyamalan gets credit again for directing them so well and giving them such good lines to deliver.
“The Visit” is a well-crafted thriller, with plenty of laughs and enough chills to be an entertaining film. It’s a small film and doesn’t aspire to anything beyond entertaining you for 90 minutes, and I believe it does a good job of that.
I’m hoping to see many more small films from M. Night Shyamalan in the future.