Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Kathryn Hahn, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie (Rated M 94 min).
Director M Night Shyamalan had an early career rush with the notoriety of Academy Award nominated blockbuster The Sixth Sense which coined the catchphrase, “I see dead people.”
Most of his movies that followed that global phenomenon descended progressively from average to incredibly bad. His new effort comes with trepidation but is hot off the heels from television success overseeing season one of Wayward Pines. This new big screen effort is a self funded stripped back thriller with more creepy frights and moments of dread rather than actual scares. The Visit relies on the unknown and children in peril, while an unequivocal twist that Shyamalan always includes in his masterworks is also on hand which, believe me, is a shock when it does. I certainly didn’t pick it.
It is great to see two young Australian actors play the leads: Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are siblings sent out of town to stay at their grandparents house whom the pair have never actually met before. Single mum, played by the always delightful Kathryn Hahn, is off on a cruise, needs time out and wants the kids to meet her parents. Meeting up at the train station, Pop-Pop and Nana are your typically old over anxious loving couple who welcome the kids with open arms. This alone could be many an early teen’s worst nightmare staying with the grandparents. However, the worst is yet to come.
Back at the isolated farm house where they will be for a week, things go weird quick from the way the old couple act and the tasks they are asked to do around the property. No phones and a suspect Skype connection keeps contact with the outside world limited. Secrets regarding this story are best left untold so as not to ruin the unraveling eerie drama.
There are some good comedic moments thanks to the blending chemistry of the children often reacting to bizarre incidents happening around them. Told through the lens of the video camera Tyler takes with them, it is a spin on the found footage film genre so some viewers not used to shaky camera angles may feel nausea.
Since his last hit movie The Village and the underrated mermaid fable Lady in the Water, most efforts from Shyamalan were dreadful. The Happening for instance had nature taking revenge through a deadly breeze across grassy knolls. The Visit maintains interest in a variety of creepy cringe-worthy moments, but is he back to his best? Not quite.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.