Yes, the rumors are true: writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has taken the thriller genre by storm once again in his latest creation The Visit. The best part is that it’s not just a thriller, as there are moments of comedy brilliantly interwoven among the threads of suspense. In the same scene, one can both laugh for frivolity and jump for fear and then do the same in the next scene. The whole experience makes you wonder where Shyamalan has been all these years and where he plans to go next.
The main clichés in the film include the “found footage” camera style and the climax occurring on “a dark and stormy night,” and while the weather hasn’t much to do with the plot as it does atmosphere, Shyamalan uses the camera style in an exciting new way to tell the story (I wish I could explain how, but no spoilers). Even Shyamalan’s classical twist isn’t that surprising (although it caught me off guard even when I was looking for it), it is so well done that I wasn’t alienated as per usual.
We follow teenager Rebecca and younger brother Tyler as they go to visit (heh heh) their mother’s parents. To the kids, it’s a novel adventure because they’ve never met these grandparents before, and it’s through that vantage that we as the audience go with these kids on this journey. Olivia DeLonge and Ed Oxenbould as Rebecca and Tyler perfectly carry the film as they transfer everything the characters they play are carrying to us as the audience; we laugh when they laugh, we roll our eyes when they rolls their eyes, and we scream when they scream.
And with Nana being played by Deanna Dunagan and Pop Pop being played by Peter McRobbie, who wouldn’t scream. Again, without giving too much away, I can say that when you watch this film, pay attention to everything these actors do to portray the mental states of their characters because it is enthralling. At times, they are the cute, old couple that everyone loves, and at others…well, you’ve seen the trailer.
The Christian Angle: Anger
The Visit is really a parable about anger and its effects. Each character struggles with some amount of anger, and as the story climaxes, we see which characters have let that anger control them the most and which ones have hid it the best. The kids are angry at their father for leaving so early in their lives, and their mom is just as angry. The mother is also angry at her parents – Nana and Pop Pop – for whatever happened on the day she left home. And believe it or not, Nana and Pop Pop are also angry for the events of that day. No one has let go of anything, and all have therefore given the devil a foothold.
Because that is what happens when we live a life full of anger; we become so full of it that we don’t have room for anything good like love. And the devil, as Paul explains in his letter to the Ephesians, will take advantage of that opportunity:
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT)
Again, without giving too much away, I can say that most of these characters do find their peace in the end, and it’s because they learn to forgive and let go, two very important traits for those who would follow in the footsteps of Jesus the Christ.
Just admit it: you want to see this because you want to laugh at M. Night Shyamalan for once again failing to make a good movie because you know he’ll never be able to do it for a while. But trust me, you will be caught off guard yourself. Upon leaving the theater, you will wonder whatever happened to this wonderful storyteller while he was gone to wherever, and then you will wonder why there aren’t more films like The Visit.