Cinematic Releases: The Visit

The M. Night we used to know finally returns with The Visit.

Sixteen years ago, M. Night Shyamalan delivered a cinematic masterpiece that still resonates to this day with audiences around the world. Since 1999, his numerous theatrical releases have become the sour butt of jokes as his films continued to dwindle into lackluster territory that deservedly tanked his career and box office numbers. With little heart and too many expected twists and turns, Shyamalan just couldn't match his greatest movies, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.  Slowly but surely, audiences turned their noses up at each new film and continued to marvel and how the one hit wonder maintained a steady stream of costly big budget duds that never made their money back. 

"Deborah Logan who?"

At last, Night returns to form with one of the best films of his career and what I will call the greatest horror movie of 2015 so far. The Visit is a heart pounding thrill ride that borrows key elements of  2014's The Taking of Deborah Logan and mixes it with the eerie themes Shyamalan has continued to render throughout his years as a film maker This is undoubtedly going to become a cult horror classic that will not only send shivers down your spine, but will have a rewatch value unlike anything we've seen in the last decade. In the realm of found footage, The Visit takes the cake as one of the greatest ever made, only challenged by the original Blair Witch Project and the divisive Chronicle. Shyamalan redefines his creative self  as a whole and finally sets himself apart with a story more centered on human fear and emotion than his more self serving efforts like Lady in the Water and the god awful After Earth

Per his usual delivery, the framing is top tier, the cinematography is stunning, and the overall look of the film has a distinct feel that is absolutely based in the same tonal qualities as Signs or The Village. This is a strange and particularly nice change for a film that's based in the often too shaky world of found footage. With attention to environmental qualities, beautiful portrait like exterior shots, and the lack of too much constant movement, The Visit resets the bar at an extremely high level that will continue to challenge other film makers that work in this medium. Shyamalan takes what has become routine, turns it on its head, flips it sideways, then offers up a spooky tale that isn't about gimmicks but is more central to scare tactics, story and character development.

I'm actually gloating right now about another man's long awaited return to successful cinema. From beginning to end, The Visit is a near perfect experience that hinges upon not only its director but its fearless cast of two young actors and the creepiest grandparents that have ever set foot on a motion picture set. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould bring a realistic portrayal as brother and sister. They seem natural together and play for the screen like a real set of "at odds" youths. But the absolute best part of  The Visit is Deanna Dunagan's spot on performance as the totally outlandish Nana. Backing her up is the geriatric man of the hour, character actor Peter McRobbie. These two well versed senior citizens sell their souls to the screen to give audiences a horrifying experience of the highest caliber. 

"Squeeze my cheeks one more time you
old son of a bitch and I'll kick
your ever loving ass!"

If you're one of those people that was turned off by the last decade of Shyamalan's endeavors, I'm with you. But it's nice to say that the man is back with a highly creative feature that will tear right into audiences with its consistent use of tension and the highly relevant thematic elements of old age and its effects. Focused on rebooting his sagging film making career, Night finally comes clean with the most intimidating movie he's made in a long time. Through grade A storytelling and newly defined clarity, Shyamalan is finally back with a vengeance. And this guy is thrilled to think he might stick around for a while this time.



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