Written & Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Cinematography By: Maryse Alberti
Editor: Luke Franco Ciarrocchi
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Two children are sent to their grandparents house to spend a week with their grandparents while their single mom goes on a relaxing vacation with her boyfriend. One of the kids, Becca, decides to film a documentary about her grandparents in order to help her mom reconnect with her parents and also find out some things about her parents as well. While filming the documentary, however, Becca and her little brother, Tyler, discover a dark secret about their grandparents.
I will say that i am not a fan of M. night Shyamalan for most of his films. While I loved UNBREAKABLE. I only liked SIGNS, but I am not the biggest fan of THE SIXTH SENSE. Which I only respect for it’s filmmaking style. Though at times i think he has interesting ideas though the final product usually leaves a lot to be desired. I even enjoyed DEVIL which he only wrote. Though at least with this film it comes closest to maybe what he was trying to do with LADY IN THE WATER.
A found footage film that at least have uses a good reason for why it is filmed in that way.
The two children leads are charming. They don’t get annoying and you don’t mind spending time with them. As they are in every scene and are our protagonists. They provide their roles with genuine charm. Tyler the joker and more care free spirit and Becca, the serious one who thinks herself smarter, but is slow to reveal her own insecurities
Casting plays an important role as most of the cast is unrecognizable, of course the older actors are. But like real elderly grandparents they look normal enough that you think that you recognize or can place them, but realize you really can’t and luckily they come with a new set of eyes. No preconceived identity or roles in which to be attached. The only real recognizable cast member is Kathryn Hahn who here plays a bit more dramatic role rather than her usual comedic one.
The film manages to stay suspenseful throughout even when the more ridiculous scenes happen. Which provides plenty of laughs. As in the middle of these WTF moments you wonder if you are laughing out of fear and as a release of fear or if it is truly comic to you.
So in a way Shyamalan has managed to learn how to master tone. As the film keeps you enchanted. Yet you never feel quite comfortable and it always feels off to a degree in atmosphere.
It is almost like a fairy tale that makes you think there is something supernatural, but eventually you realize it is all the more human story.
The film manages to have human drama and reveal character throughout her makes it all the more realistic to a degree. Even including the characters mother away on a trip.
The film manages to enchant you. As you are like the children and try to figure out what is happening and wrong. In times of terror it manages to influence and affect the audience.
The film manages to back itself up with reasons and expectations as it goes along. Leaving the audience to be able to jump to many conclusions and have many theories. While keeping the audiences attention and keeping you enraptured in the story. M. Night Shyamalan used his fee from the Will Smith produced science-fiction adventure story After Earth to self-produce the film in question. In his own words, this was “an attempt to regain artistic control” after his recent movies had been denied final cut, and were even taken away from him in post-production.
This film showcases that he still has artistic vision in him, (not that any of his badly recieved films were lacking in vision and look or ideas.They just seemed to go wayward along the way) This film shows him having a passion at telling a story. Maybe the lack of a big budget made him more creative out of a hunger to express the story and his ideas
This marks the first feature horror film by M. Night Shyamalan to not include long time collaborator and signature composer, James Newton Howard. Due to the lack of a full budget and style of the film, Shyamalan decided a “film score” wouldn’t fit the final product.
Being that this is a Shyamalan film there is a twist in the film. Though at least with this film from the advertisement and in the beginning you suspect there would be one. Instead of really expecting one or just putting one there when it isn’t needed . I could not pick some of the story details, but I will not kick a man when he is down. Besides they are minor and the story still works.
At first you believe this to be fairy tale inspired as it seems like maybe a variation on HANSEL & GRETEL. Then you just think maybe this is a paranoia kids horror film. Something inspired from the 70’s or 80’s. As a film that treats kids more with respect but remembers they are kids and their imaginations might get the better of them. It feels serious and if the moment. Even when using a style that is popular and can get annoying and seem lazy when handled by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or might not be necessary. Where as here it helps create the environment and the filming is best to keep the story going and keep the audience on it’s toes.