The Grandparent Trap. Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan dazzled audiences with his directorial prowess and intricate slight-of-hand when he placed pen upon paper. He (or maybe we) started to rely a little too heavily on his next big reveal with any given film. Regardless of his tricks, THE SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, SIGNS and (to a lesser extent) THE VILLAGE proved that he knew how to hang an audience on his every written word and tweak of the camera lens. A few years later he directed THE HAPPENING, THE LAST AIRBENDER and AFTER EARTH – arguably three of the worst movies of the last ten years. Back for another potential browbeating from critics, M. Night has managed to scale down his usually exorbitant production budget, slim down his storytelling, beef up the focus on characters and, all in turn, deliver an intimately insane little pseudo-thriller about an unassuming, weeklong visit to Nana and Pop Pop’s. The real twist of this story is that it doesn’t suck – like most of us expected. This creepily kooky crowd-pleaser is a brazenly bare-bones, out-of-left-field, what-the-hell-just-happened bounce-back for M. Night. It’ll make you squirm in your seat, hide your eyes and laugh from both nervous fear and comedic delight . Moviegoer masses willing, this is a perfect example of a film begging to be viewed for the first time with as many unassuming strangers as possible. This found-footage format sibling adventure contains loads of tension, tons of wit, touching familial drama, terrific performances from all involved and a balanced, self aware tone that makes it almost impossible to resist. Don’t leave your room after 9:30pm, sleep with one eye open and skip that over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house nonsense this holiday season. THE VISIT is good ol’ fashioned horrific fun!
Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Running time: 1 hr. 34min.
Story: A brother and sister are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong trip. Once the children discover that the ederly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.