Before I dig into the TIFF stuff, I wanted to post about The Visit, M. Night Shyamalan's newest venture that released this past weekend.
Two teens visiting their estranged grandparents for the first time start witnessing weird occurrences when the sun goes down.
Despite how terrible most people think his last two blockbusters were, they still made money overseas, so he's still a bankable asset to the bean counters. I say that in case you were wondering how people still give him cash to make movies after his last five (and one-third) efforts. Apparently Shyamalan used his fee from After Earth to finance The Visit, so I do have to admire his gumption in the face of popular opinion.
And good on him for doing so because The Visit is actually pretty decent. Shyamalan has ditched the overblown and convoluted plots and just kept things simple with four characters together for a week on a farm. It became very clear to me while watching this Shyamalan being intentionally funny is much more enjoyable to watch than Shyamalan being unintentionally funny. And there is a lot of comedy to be had here which creates a nice balance with the more horrific elements.
Due to this being a more intimate piece, the actors were the focus and I thought they were solid across the board. The teenagers Becka (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), once I got my initial annoyance of them spewing dialogue that no one their age would ever say, gave very natural performances and worked well together as siblings.
The Visit has a nice build and I didn't find the found footage format too distracting, as the pretense by which it was introduced was believable enough to justify its existence. The movie was produced by Jason Blum (of Paranormal Activity, Insidious et al) and I can see his influence in here, as well. Shyamalan & Blum together create an interesting hybrid of the modern and classical.
As you would expect, there was an inevitable twist in The Visit and it was well crafted enough that I only figured it out moments before the reveal. It had a cool campfire story quality to it that I dug. I also appreciated that Shyamalan kept himself (and his ego) out of this one, and though there is a “swing away” moment at the climax, it was nowhere near as preposterous as the one in Signs.
The Visit had a simple narrative and was well executed on both sides of the camera. I also feel this was a sizable step toward the public image redemption of M. Night Shayamalan.