With M. Night Shyamalan's new movie The Visit, the much-maligned screenwriter/director is hoping to get back into the good graces of critics and audiences alike after a string of almost universally panned movies. Shyamalan burst onto the scene as Hollywood's hottest new director with The Sixth Sense in 1999, which earned several Oscar nominations including Best Picture. He followed that up with the critically praised Unbreakable and Signs, but each of his five movies since then, starting with The Village, have failed to even garner a 50 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Shyamalan is hoping to turn things around with The Visit, a very creepy-looking film about two kids visiting their grandparents and encountering some disturbing behavior. The film uses a handheld camera filming style for many shots, giving a sense of realism, but is The Visit actually based on a true story ?
Nope. Like the bulk of the director's other films, the plot for The Visit emerged from Shyamalan's own brain. Now 45, the filmmaker decided to make elderly people the film's antagonists because he equates fear of the elderly with fear of death, something that becomes more prevalent as people get older. But once you get past the film's storyline coming from Shyamalan's imagination, The Visit shares very little in common with the director's other movies. Here's what sets it apart.
It's A Real Horror Film
Although some of Shyamalan's movies like, The Sixth Sense and Signs, offer some scares, they're both considered more thriller films than straight-up horror. But not The Visit. The movie is said to be Shyamalan's first true scary movie, with the director himself telling Bloody Disgusting, "I never really considered my previous films as scary though… but The Visit? Yeah! This is the one. The intention of the film is to thrill and scare." Sounds... scary.
He Produced It Himself
As opposed to the big budget studio movies he's been churning out for years (his last film, After Earth, had a budget of $130 million), Shyamalan used his own production company to make The Visit for just $5 million... of his own money. Take that, Hollywood fat cats!
It's Linked To Paranormal Activity
Helping solidify this film's standing as a true horror movie is the fact that Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions teamed up with Shyamalan to help sell the low budget scary feel of the film. Blum has had his hand behind the recent deluge of dirt cheap scary movies like the Paranormal Activity series, The Purge series, and the Insidious movies, so if those films are any indication, The Visit is going to be a massive success.
It Utilizes Characters Filming
Just don't call it found footage. Although The Visit looks an awful lot like a found footage movie, which Shyamalan has stayed away from and doesn't care for, The Visit is actually shot "documentary style", according to Shyamalan. He told Games Radar that the difference is that documentary style has cinematic intent, while found footage does not. Either way, the bulk of the movie is seen through the main characters' point of view, and that's a tactic the director has not used before.
He's Not In It
Shyamalan has had a cameo in virtually all of his films, sometimes even playing a larger role like in Signs. But in The Visit, he's nowhere to be found. Shyamalan says the reason he's absent is because the only characters seen for most of the film are this single family, and that if he all of a sudden showed up, it would be too jarring for the viewer. It could have made for a good twist, though.
It's A Comedy?
Despite being his scariest film ever, The Visit is also Shyamalan's funniest, with one of the film's stars being the super funny Kathryn Hahn. The movie's mix of horror and comedy truly separates it from his other serious (some say over-serious) works. In other words, it ain't The Happening.
With all of the differences from his previous work, The Visit could signal a new chapter in Shyamalan's career. Perhaps the director will return to the critical darling status he once enjoyed, or maybe he'll flounder once again. Whatever happens, at least the guy is taking a risk and trying something new. I hope it works out.
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