After last year’s disjointed mega flop After Earth, no one could blame filmmaker/human punching bag M Night Shyamalan if he decided to take an extended break from making movies. In fact, considering his post-Signs output, more than a few people have vocally encouraged him to do so, with that number increasing with each subsequent release.
With that in mind, it was a bit surprising to see a trailer for Shyamalan’s latest effort, The Visit, this past weekend in theaters. Even more shocking was how damn good the two minutes of footage looked! The Visit appears to be Shyamalan scaling back the scope and spectacle of his vision, opting for a small scale horror film that, if it works, should be a real crowd pleaser. Shyamalan financed the film out of his own pocket, and filmed it in secret in rural Pennsylvania.
The Visit is about a pair of siblings dropped off to their grandparents’ house in order to spend some quality time with them. While things seem hunky dory at the outset, it’s not too long before the brother and sister discover that Nona and Papa are involved in some freaky activity. Despite their mom dismissing her parent’s behavior as the quirks of old age (and perhaps just happy to enjoy a few nights at home without screaming kids underfoot), or what might be the early onset of dementia, it doesn’t matter what the reasons are when granny is telling the kids to hop in the oven or gramps is wielding an axe with bad intentions on his mind.
Look, everyone knows that old people are creepy enough without any added hijinx. They typically smell of Vic’s Vapor Rub and serve as a constant reminder of our own mortality. Put one behind the wheel and they’ll drive 40 miles an hour in the passing lane but manage to confuse the brake and gas pedal when driving in front of school kids of trying to park in front of buildings. They talk a lot of gibberish and wear night clothes in public. They vote, and they vote for assholes nine times out of ten. All things considered, if you make senior citizens the antagonists in your horror movie, it will be creepy as shit.
Universal Studios slated The Visit for a September 11th release. This seems like a bold move. If the film is the latest in a long line of disasters for the filmmaker, then the reviews almost write themselves: “The Visit is the second largest tragedy unleashed upon the country on this date.” Here’s hoping the once-great director finds his footing again.