Is ‘The Visit’ M. Night Shyamalan’s Comeback? 9 Critics Sound Off

“Easily Shyamalan’s best film in years,” writes one reviewer of the director’s low-budget horror film

M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Visit” is opening in theaters on Friday, and so far, critics are praising the $5 million horror film as the director’s comeback after the pricey flops “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth.”

The Blumhouse production — about two kids (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) left in the care of their mom’s long estranged parents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie), who proceed to torment them — has gotten a 65 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is strong for the genre.

TheWrap’s critic James Rocchi praised the cast and the sound design but offered a mixed assessment overall: “Shyamalan keeps ‘The Visit’ a lowdown and simple affair, but you also can’t help but feel a little annoyed by it; it’s so low-profile it’s almost invisible, so fast-and-dirty it winds up a smeary blur.”

But many critics found that “The Visit” is Shyamalan’s best work in years. Here are 9 of the most nail-biting reviews:

Michael O’Sullivan from The Washington Post:

“‘The Visit’ is a triumphant return to form for the filmmaker of “The Sixth Sense,” whose once-promising career has steadily declined for at least the past decade. The new film is an effective if flawed psychological thriller, a modest campfire story with a solid, genuinely startling twist that is likely to restore the faith of some of his critics.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from A.V. Club:

“And though it never matches the elegance and atmosphere of Shyamalan’s best work–partly because the writer-director intentionally deflates the tension with jokes and kid-friendly wisecracks until the third act–the movie’s free-for-all approach to domestic horror still produces plenty of indelible images, framed so that the viewer knows exactly what they’ve seen, but still can’t make sense of what’s going on. Following a creative low period that found the director trying his hand at effects-driven fantasy and sci-fi, it can’t help but come across as a comeback.”

Randy Cordova from The Arizona Republic:

“Salvation has come for M. Night Shyamalan in the form of ‘The Visit.’  A scary fun-house ride that expertly blends jittery tension and laugh-out-loud humor, it will make you forgive the filmmaker for such major time-wasters as ‘Lady in the Water,’ ‘After Earth’ and ‘The Happening.'”

Well, maybe not ‘The Happening.’ Still, it is a major move toward redemption.”

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone:

“Well, it’s not in the same league as ‘The Sixth Sense,’ but director M. Night Shyamalan ends a long dry spell with ‘The Visit.’ It’s a blend of mirth and malice that combines Grimm fairy tales with the found-footage gimmick of ‘Paranormal Activity’ … No spoilers, except to say that cheap thrills can still be a blast.”

Fred Topel from Nerd Report:

“Watching this unfold is such a joy in the hands of a master filmmaker. The grandparents’ behavior is weirder and freakier than any creature. The kids witness traumatic things and it’s not visual effects. Every time there’s a payoff, you realize Shyamalan knew exactly what he was doing the whole time. The Visit will make you scream. I can vouch for a theater full of hardened critics firsthand.”

Josh Bell from Las Vegas Weekly:

“The inevitable twist isn’t hard to figure out, but it’s also a satisfying way to increase the tension in the final act. ‘The Visit’ isn’t going to become an acclaimed classic like ‘The Sixth Sense’, but it’s easily Shyamalan’s best movie since ‘Signs,’ and an indication that beneath the hubris and self-importance, he’s still a smart and talented filmmaker.”

Randy Myers from San Francisco Mercury News:

“Shyamalan plays it loose from the start, making us laugh at the antics of these two appealing kids, played with charm by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould, and does that by interjecting sly references to filmmaking and having Tyler rap on the train. That rambling, breezy style goes overboard at points, but it does work on two levels: making the audience relax and getting them emotionally invested. Sensing the inevitable bad turn lurking right around the corner, we’re gleeful in our anticipation.

These make ‘The Visit’ frightfully fun, with Shyamalan relentless toying with us and cramming in horror genre references. He even delivers a worthy twist near the finale.”

Scott Mendelson from Forbes:

“‘The Visit’ is the one we’ve been waiting for, folks. It’s good. Oh my word, is it good. But more importantly, it is excellent in that specific way that reminds us why M. Night Shyamalan was once such a marvel. It is richly humanistic, filled with individually sketched characters that often sparkle with wit and surprising decency. Within the first few minutes of this evocatively sketched gem, all those bad memories of pretty much everything Shyamalan has made since ‘Signs’ vanishes in a puff of smoke. ‘The Visit’ is always engrossing, occasionally enthralling, periodically hilarious, and, when it counts, bruised-forearm terrifying. This is delightful entertainment.”

Travis Hopson from The Examiner:

“‘The Visit’ is, easily, Shyamalan’s best film in years, showing the tense, gut-punching emotional twists and technical skill that made his early work so special. That he’s managed to tap into that in a genre that has encouraged laziness in filmmakers only makes the accomplishment more impressive. Let’s not go too far overboard, though; some of Shyamalan’s annoying habits are still in play, but this is a genuinely scary film that uses some ingenious framing and bursts of humor to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.”