M Night Shyamalan's ninth film, The Visit, will hit American theatres on September 11. It is not yet clear when the movie will arrive in India, but happily many of his films have had their releases here. So, one presumes -- or at least hopes -- that The Visit will pay us a visit.
For, after all, Shyamalan is an Indian, having been born in Mahe and spent the first few weeks of his life in Puducherry.
The Visit -- coming as it does after a series of Shyamalan's flops -- may well surprise us, if one were to go by the first impressions of those who have had a chance to watch the film. They have described it as the best horror movie they have seen in a long time. William Bibbiani, a critic at CraveOnline, wrote on Twitter, "M. Night Shyamalan's best film in a very, very, VERY long time."
M Night Shyamalan may hit the BO jackpot with The Visit.
The filmmaker's first four studio films, beginning with The Sixth Sense in 1999 -- followed by Unbreakable, Signs and The Village -- were hits. However, they were followed by four box office bombs -- Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth.
The Visit holds out the promise of a better day for the director. It does have the Shyamalan signature of a shockingly surprise ending. And the plot, a comedic thriller, is all about two teenagers who go visiting their grandparents.
Nana (played by Deanna Dunagan) scratches walls at night, and Pop-Pop (Peter McRobbie) has a shed full of secrets. It seems like Little Red Riding Hood visiting her grandmother on the other side of the forest to find the wolf in the old woman's clothing, and indeed in one of Shyamalan's works, The Village, there is a girl who goes about wearing a red hood.
Also, The Visit -- unlike the flops -- is based on a story written by Shyamalan. He has directed and also produced it, spending about $5 million of his own money.
This may be a huge risk, but Shyamalan has now started to resemble Woody Allen, the auteur-director, in that respect. He creates what goes inside his head, and the ticket-paying masses be damned. One supposes Shyamalan -- after all his failures -- has now begun to feel a little easier in terms of his craft. And, as they say, one's best creativity emerges only when one is relaxed.
The Visit seems to convey this. The teenage girl is an aspiring moviemaker and she is constantly recording with her camcorder, striving hard to create beautiful art. But in the end she says, "You know what, let us just have some fun". Shyamalan at 45 appears to have understood this. Good luck, should we say.