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Is 'The Visit' M. Night Shyamalan's comeback?
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Audience's haven't been excited about M. Night Shyamalan for several years, but many have suggested that his latest low-budget flick, "The Visit" is his comeback, but is it? It very well could be. - photo by John Clyde
NANA AND POP POPS HOUSE The end of the summer has been weak at the theater this year. There have been some really pleasant surprises like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and some real disasters like Fantastic 4. But one movie people have been curious about more than looking forward to is possibly M. Night Shyamalans The Visit.

Shyamalan is loved and hated by audiences and some have been praying for him to just disappear from Hollywood, and others have been patiently waiting for him to return to his former glory.

There has been a fair amount of buzz surrounding The Visit with many calling it Shyamalans return to form. So, is the polarizing director back? Or is this another disappointing film from a talented filmmaker?

Im not sure Id call it a return to form as much as Id call it an exciting evolution.

The Visit is 90 minutes of laughs thrills and a few heart-touching moments. I found myself smiling nearly start to finish whether it be from laughing at the absurdity of it all or the spot-on performances from the characters. I was also smiling because Shyamalan got me to jump so much that I cant control my grin.

Here are a few reasons The Visit is a great little flick and why we should be excited Shyamalan is back on his game.

Funny

Humor is nothing new for Shyamalan films. One of his best films, Signs, has some near laugh-out-loud moments and the subtle humor in The Village, is enough to keep the movie going.

The Visit, on the other hand, dances the line between horror and comedy incredibly well. I found myself laughing out loud at times and realized the theater was joining me.

The premise of the film is a bit ridiculous to begin with, but Shyamalan doesnt take it too seriously, so the comedy is pretty effortless and refreshing. The jokes come at stellar moments as they break the tension thats been built and gets viewers through another few minutes of clinching our fists waiting for the next scare.

Scary

Shyamalan said he made three cuts of The Visit. One was a pure comedy, another strictly horror and the final was something that fell in between. What ended up on the screen was the latter.

As I mentioned, this is a pretty funny film, but it has equal parts screams as laughs.

We all knew that Shyamalan could give us a jump, and he does it expertly here. You even know some of them are coming, but its like a classic Jack in the Box. You know its going to pop out at you any second, but no matter how prepared you are you jump every time. Thats how this film felt.

Every scene was a slow build up like you were turning that lever on the Jack in the Box inching closer and closer to the surprise, and your body tenses waiting for the moment. Then Shyamalan hits you with that clown popping out of the box and you find yourself cursing under your breath as you try to relax your muscles.

The cast, especially Ed Oxenbould

The cast is primarily just four people with one extra playing a supporting role. All five players are perfect in their roles. The grandparents are the perfect amount of loving and crazy, the mom, Kathryn Hahn, is the fantastic as the laid back yet protective mother, and the two kids make the whole movie worth it.

The older sister Becca, played by Olivia DeJonge, is spot-on as an aspiring documentary filmmaker and prototypical older sister. Her younger brother annoys her, but she also loves him and does whatever she has to to keep him safe.

The real star of the movie is clear, however, and thats Ed Oxenbould. Viewers will recognize Oxenbould as Alexander from the incredibly entertaining Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In The Visit, Oxenbould has a magnetizing charisma and presence. You cant help but keep your eyes on him whenever hes on screen and long for his character when hes not.

His humor and timing are that of a seasoned pro and his dramatic moments deliver as effectively as his lighter ones.

Oxenbould caught the eye of many audiences as Alexander, but The Visit will be his star-making role.

The script

Shyamalan had some missteps with The Happening and The Last Airbender when it came to writing. Lets not forget, however, that this is the same man who gave us juggernaut scripts like Unbreakable and the phenomenal The Sixth Sense.

Shyamalan does know how to craft an expert script with great characters, interesting plot points, strong development and his classic surprise twist. All are present to one level or another in The Visit.

The character development is intriguing and the set ups match the eventual pay offs. Is there a twist? Kind of. I wouldnt call it a twist in the classic sense, but it is a reveal that we knew was eventually coming.

We know that something isnt right, and we spend most of the movie wanting to know what is really wrong with Nana and Pop Pop. Some may figure out the twist before it comes, but that still doesnt make the journey any less enjoyable.

Conclusion

The Visit is a fun movie that will kick off the scary-movie season with a bang. Those who like Shyamalans earlier works and have been waiting for his comeback this is for you. If youve never liked Shyamalan much, but you do enjoy a fun scary movie, then youll likely enjoy this. If you dont like Shyamalan or scary movies then youre not going to enjoy a trip to the theater for The Visit.

This movie may not be everyones cup of tea, but The Visit truly has me excited what Shyamalan gives us next.

The Visit is rated PG-13 and is definitely for an older crowd.