Plot twist master pays hor­ror aVisit

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

There won’t be many di­rec­tors who came out of the blocks with as im­pres­sive a dou­ble act as The Sixth Sense and Un­break­able.

M Night Shya­malan un­doubt­edly cap­tured film fans’ imag­i­na­tions with his in­no­va­tive, twisty first two fea­tures and, though fol­low-ups Signs and The Vil­lage were more flawed, here was a man with the movie world at his feet in the mid-noughties.

Alas, from 2006’s Lady in the Wa­ter on­wards, the one-time vi­sion­ary ap­peared to be los­ing the plot, with duds The Hap­pen­ing and The Last Air­ben­der among the worst movies I’ve ever had to sit through.

It’s fair to say, then, that Shya­malan could do with a hit and the In­dian-born di­rec­tor re­turns to the genre that made him fa­mous with hor­ror The Visit.

For the most part this is a found-footage tale of terror that sees brother and sis­ter Tyler (Ed Ox­en­bould) and Becca (Olivia DeJonge) sent to stay with their grand­par­ents for a week, with Becca de­cid­ing to make a doc­u­men­tary on her el­derly hosts.

To say too much else would spoil the fun but, need­less to say, this doesn’t pan out as your av­er­age fam­ily visit as things take a dark turn.

Though he’s not ex­actly break­ing new ground, Shya­malan re­turns to some­thing like his early ca­reer form by go­ing back to ba­sics.

Some may roll their eyes at yet another en­try to the bloated found-footage hor­ror back cat­a­logue and while Becca, like many oth­ers be­fore her, in­ex­pli­ca­bly con­tin­ues to film ev­ery­thing de­spite the in­creas­ing chaos around her, Shya­malan proves he hasn’t lost his gift to get un­der an au­di­ence’s skin.

His big­gest mas­ter­stroke was to ter­rify his teens with dear old Nana (Deanna Du­na­gan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRob­bie) rather than a knife-wield­ing killer or supernatural boogey­man.

He taps into our fears of get­ting old and the im­pact age has on our bod­ies, coax­ing im­pres­sive turns from vet­er­ans Du­na­gan and McRob­bie.

Rel­a­tive new­com­ers Ox­en­bould and DeJonge do a good job too; not just scream­ing and cow­er­ing in terror dur­ing the scarier mo­ments, but also show­ing gen­uine heartache at the di­a­bol­i­cal de­vel­op­ments of their stay with their grand­par­ents.

Shya­malan also penned the screen­play and wisely breaks the skin-crawl­ing ten­sion with a few well-placed laughs here and there.

And while his use of some fa­mil­iar hor­ror tropes – pro­jec­tile vom­it­ing – feel lazily shoe­horned in, you can’t beat the help­less dread cre­ated by our pro­tag­o­nists be­ing stuck within an iso­lated farm­house in the snow.

This be­ing Shya­malan, of course there’s a twist – and it’s a sur­pris­ing, ef­fec­tive one that leads to fruit­ful jump scares.

The Visit won’t win any prizes for orig­i­nal­ity, but no Razz­ies are likely to fol­low ei­ther. Shya­malan can’t be writ­ten off just yet.

Not-so-warm welcome Du­na­gan’s Nana brings the fear

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