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“The Visit” is a visit from kernels of Shyamalan’s lost greatness

M. Night Shyamalan’s newest cinematic outing “The Visit” is both ambivalent and confusing. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. It’s the type of movie that’s definitely worth viewing while it’s in theaters. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a great movie, or even a good movie. Shyamalan’s name is now synonymous with “career in a downward spiral.” By any other filmmaker, this would have been a C- at best, but it gets a little extra credit.

The problem with reviewing a Shyamalan film is that it’s no longer a simple analysis of black and white, good and bad. There has to be a discussion about why some things happened at some point in the movie. For instance, all of the jump scares in the movie come as a result of the grandmother wandering around the house at night, and the majority of them were more goofy than frightening.

If this is meant to be funny, then that’s fine. But if it’s meant to be scary, the fact that so many people found it funny means that the point was too difficult to get across. At any rate, it was entertaining and that’s what is most important.

What stops the film from being good and makes it, instead, just a passable distraction, is the writing. The script is so poorly written that it would be unfair to mention and critique the performances of the actors, because no actor in the business could save a script that is so bad.

Shyamalan needs to stop writing child characters because he obviously has no idea what children are actually like, with this film portraying them as either rappers or pretentious film wannabes. After this, we can also add the elderly to the list of groups that he has no idea how to write, as he believes that wandering around the house naked at night and tackling people for no reason are just the sorts of things that old people do.

Also, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it: the cinematography is just awful.

Shyamalan chose to film this movie in “found footage” style, in turn detracting from a lot of moments that could be scarier or funnier since the audience can’t actually understand what is going on through the maddening shaking of the camera.

Despite the poor writing, there are some great parts of the movie, including how the child characters deal with their father leaving. Moreover, there is an excellent act three twist reminiscent of “The Sixth Sense,” or “Unbreakable” that will catch audiences by surprise, with a delivery that will have them either gasping in horror or screaming at the characters to take action.

There are kernels of better movies in here — movies that people would want to see far more than what they got. Like Shyamalan’s “After Earth,” one of the main problems of this film is that it lacks focus and purpose. In spite of this, the movie was still entertaining and is, without a doubt, worth seeing for, at least, a tiny peek of the same Shyamalan who was great all those years ago.