Once hailed by Newsweek as “the next Spielberg,” writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has more or less been notable over the past decade only for being the butt of many jokes. After the critical and commercial successes of some of his early films, such as The Sixth Sense and Signs, Shyamalan’s artistic vision has only been on the decline ever since. From 2004’s The Village through 2008’s The Happening, and most notably 2013’s Will Smith/Jaden Smith vehicle After Earth, Shyamalan has had a terribly tough time directing or writing a universally-liked movie. Sadly, though quite unsurprisingly, Shyamalan’s newest endeavor — The Visit — didn’t leave me feeling like he is back to form.
In The Visit, 15-year-old Rebecca and 13-year-old Tyler are siblings who go to see their grandparents while their single mother, Paula, goes on a cruise with her new boyfriend. Rebecca is an aspiring film director and decides she wants to film a documentary chronicling their visit, as it is the first time the siblings have ever met their grandparents. Years earlier, Paula cursed her parents and eloped with her then-boyfriend (the father of Rebecca and Tyler), and has had no contact with them ever since, hence the fact the kids have never met their own grandparents. When the kids arrive, their grandparents John and Doris seem like a sweet old couple like any other cozy set of lovable grandparents. It doesn’t take long before “cozy” turns to creepy, however.