Wednesday, 23 September 2015


M. Night Shyamalan loves a twist, as well we know. And that's good for me, because I love a twist too, and The Visit contains a cracker of one. It functions as the best twists do, exemplifying this writer-director's skill at orchestrating them (when his skills in many other areas are so woefully wanting): it reconfigures what you've already seen without betraying your trust, painting past occurrences in a new light that contributes narrative and thematic complexity without sacrificing the integrity of what you saw, or what you think you saw. It can't quite stretch to contributing said integrity, though, in those areas where Shyamalan's skills are all but absent, and it's thus that The Visit is a film of lesser quality than its one, crucial, late-game revelation. As per, this American auteur's confidence in those skills shows no signs of diminishing even after a string of mostly-deserved flops - convinced on the legitimacy of his style of scripting, he writes excessively purple dialogue and encourages a detached, vaguely psychotic manner of performing in all his actors. This time, he almost gets away with the dialogue, given the self-assured nature of his teen protagonists, though one wonders why they ever had to be so obnoxious, and so it's Shyamalan who comes off obnoxious. He almost gets away with the wacky acting too, given the film's identity as a (sporadically effective) horror, though one notes a distinctly ageist tone to the conceit that only intensifies following the twist, and so, again, it's Shyamalan who comes off badly. Alongside the twist, The Visit benefits from a canny choice of DP - Maryse Alberti, whose experience in documentary makes her a perfect fit for found-footage filmmaking, and she demonstrates once more that she has a knack for making mundane environments subtly visually interesting.