The Librarian’s Cellar: At the Cinema: THE VISIT

Though in truth, I was disappointed with Lady in the Water (2006) and The Happening (2008) [what was that?!] I have long been a fan of M.Night Shyamalan’s work, particularly, The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and Devil (2010) [Writer]. Happy to say that the man is back on form with his latest release, The Visit, which premiered in Ireland recently at the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin, with the director in attendance for a Q&A.

Shalalaman 2a

Mom, there’s something wrong with Nana and Papa…

The film plays, as the director explains, on the fears we all have of getting older, icky bits and all! And what happens when you put an old woman in a horror film? Everyone, grown ups and kids alike, get scared! And there are plenty of lighter moments to keep you moving through the ‘what next?’ as Rebecca [15] and her younger brother, Tyler, with their own ulterior motives, arrive in Pennsylvania to visit the grandparents they have never before met; firstly, to give their mother time to have some fun with her new boyfriend on a week-long cruise; and secondly, to find a way to offer their mother the elixir – that being forgiveness and reconciliation with the parents she turned her back on at nineteen years of age. So, Rebecca, being a fledging filmmaker, and with the help of the rap-loving Tyler, document the entire visit to the remote farmhouse, but what they capture…

No spoilers here. I’ll leave it, and you, hanging right there…with a nudge to go see it, and you won’t be disappointed!

Shyamalan made this movie using his own money, and outside of the studio system, and only when he had completed it, brought it to Universal. Seems to be the way of things these days if you want to see anything that isn’t a CGI heavy, comic book caper! Speaking about the studio system, and the difficulty in getting anything made outside of the blockbusters, where in terms of the ‘quotients’,  marketing budgets are so much greater than the cost of making the film, means that dramas – and he gave some examples like Kramer V Kramer and Five Easy Pieces – are films that probably wouldn’t get made in the current climate. Amazing films – but the audiences would be too small for the studios to make the investment.

He also spoke about the huge change that has taken place in the industry in the last thirty years since he fell in love with cinema as a kid, and the directors that were so influential to him, and indeed, so central to our childhood experience of cinema. Zemeckis, Spielberg, Lucas – these were the leaders, with the darker storytellers, like Christopher Nolan, on the periphery. Now, the darker, edgier stuff is the commonplace, and kids grow up a lot faster…

The kids in The Visit are just brilliant, and are for a change, quite relatable – two young actors from Australia that Shyamalan found through an audition process. And as for Nana and PopPop…well, they did warn the kids not to leave their room after 9:30pm!

Check the Lighthouse or a cinema near you for screening dates.


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