The Visit

It has always been apparent that when M. Night Shyamalan reverts to his dark Sixth Sense/Signs roots, he makes really good movies. The type so engaging and frightening, they make your heart jump. His reputation had been so tarnished for films like The Village, Lady in the Water, and the hugely unpopular The Last Airbender, he was literally booed by a New York City audience when his credit as a producer and writer came up on the Devil movie trailer back in 2010.
The Visit just might get Shyamalan out of what the industry characterizes as “director’s jail.” At least temporarily. Although he still has quite a ways to go before he attempts to ingratiate himself amongst movie goers. His latest pic touts that tried and true formula of telling a seemingly ordinary story, and then blindsiding you with something you never ever saw coming.
Employing the slightly overused method of live footage, Becca and her brother Tyler (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) are determined to document a personal family history, starting with mom, played by a pretty down to earth Kathryn Hahn. They’re also determined to see their grandparents whom their mom has been estranged from for 15 years, and despite her strongest objections, the precocious pair board a train bound for Masonville, PA. to see them for the first time.
Naturally their welcomed with open arms in the seemingly idyllic town. Nana and Pop Pop (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) anxiously await with the proverbial name signs when the kids deboard at the station. Initial-ly, all is basically routine with everyone enjoying the familial pleasures of meeting at last. But as Becca’s camera keeps rolling within and without Nana’s peaceful household, it becomes obvious that something is definitely not normal, or idyllic, with these two seniors who they really know nothing a-bout. Especially when the kids disobey the sacred third rule about not leaving their bedroom after 9:30.
Humor isn’t spared in this scary setting. About to get even scarier. Not only do their grandparents practice some unusual and dangerous habits, they make a funny request of Becca regarding the kitchen oven. Ed Oxenbould’s Tyler is a major change from Alexander, having that Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, trading it in as an aspiring, mildly annoying rapper. Although this week with his grandkin may prove to be a bit more terrifying than just laughably terrible.
Shyamalan as always reserves most of his filming in and around the pastoral suburban southeast Pennsylvania region. An ideal backdrop that so effectively belies the peace and tranquility and conjures up genuine feelings of skittish anxiety in an area where grandkids and grandparents should be completely free of worry. It’s the perfect venue for the Indian born director whose latest film, “The Visit”, just may have struck that elusive paydirt for him.

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