Do you remember the first time you watched The Sixth Sense?
The Sixth Sense blew audiences away in 1999. A mysterious plot, a creepy little boy, and a twist at the end combined and electrocuted everyone just a little bit. These were a bunch of really great elements that combined to make an iconic modern film. Everyone thought that M. Night Shyamalan was the new director that was going to rule Hollywood - a man with a penchant for sleight of hand and a way of writing twists that would become his trademark. That idea of a trademark would quickly become Shyamalan's downfall, but everyone has an Achilles heel.
When people stumble upon a trademark like that, it can be easy to go too far. Signs was okay, but it didn't have that magic to it that The Sixth Sense did. I'm one of the few people that really liked The Village, but I'm also the first to admit that the twist was contrived and unnecessary. He went too over the top, and The Village didn't need that twist to be a good movie. Lady in the Water was a nightmare, and so were Devil and The Happening. And we won't even discuss The Last Airbender.
I hate to say it, but M. Night has become a joke among movie lovers, and it's been that way for a few years now. Over-the-top, unnecessary twists for the sake of it, especially when used instead of a good script, are annoying. So I went to see The Visit with full expectations that it would be just as awful as everything else Shyamalan has done lately, but I'm happy to say that I was wrong.
It wasn't a perfect movie, don't get me wrong. But it was good, and it held a possible promise that Shyamalan has learned his lesson and is back to wow us again. The Visit did have a twist, and I won't spoil it here, but it was what twists should be. It was small, woven well into the plot, and alongside a pretty good movie, it worked very well. Despite it being small and far less over-the-top than some Shyamalan twists, I gasped when it was revealed, and I think that's another sign that it worked really well.
I was especially blown away by the performance given by the grandmother, played by Deanna Dunagan. She hasn't had many major film/television roles, but she is a Tony-award winning stage actress, and it certainly shows. She's able to achieve that perfect balance between sweet and creepy that somehow simultaneously reminded me of my own, dear, late grandmother as well as some horrific beast out of my nightmares.
The children, seen as protagonists of the film, annoyed the hell out of me. I liked that they broke the stereotypes of annoyed-teenage-girl-that-doesn't-want-to-go-on-this-family-outing and annoying-younger-brother-that-goes-woah-when-something-scary-happens, but the character types that were chosen instead weren't much better. The girl is pretentious enough to make you grind your teeth, and the boy's germaphobic white rapper character is a little out of left field - and not in a good way.
Also, he reminds me of Beans from Even Stevens, who was objectively one of the worst child characters of all time.
However, despite the characterization of the kids, I really enjoyed myself at this movie. It held my attention throughout, and although I'm usually good with guessing, I didn't see the twist coming. I really think that Shyamalan might be on the comeback. What do you think?