Wayward Pines + The Visit – M. Night Shyamalan’s Comeback?!

So M. Night Shyamalan.  He’s back, with back-to-back success with his new show Wayward Pines and new film The Visit!  Is this his comeback?

There will be no spoilers in this post.

Wayward Pines

It came out quite a while ago now, but I had wanted to talk about it a little bit.  While visiting my sister over the summer, she and her husband were raving to us about this show, and how unpredictable it was.  They loved it.

It’s M. Night Shyamalan’s first foray into TV I think.  He produced it.  Some people were weary since the films he wrote and directed hadn’t been doing well for a while now, and the films he only produced were also just ok.  So here he is producing his first TV show.  This is similar to the Warchowski siblings.  They too produced  their first TV show ‘Sense8’ for Netflix.  People speculated that episodic television would be a better medium for the siblings.  That their sensibilities would translate better as television shows than as films.  I think there were mixed reviews for ‘Sense8,’ but over-all I think people liked it and I know of some who love it.  Perhaps what was speculated is true.  I have yet to see enough of ‘Sense8’ to really determine that for myself, BUT, I have seen all of ‘Wayward Pines,’ and liked it!  Though it’s not quite as unpredictable as my sister and brother-in-law made it out to be.  I didn’t love it, but I did like it and would probably see a second season, which I hear might happen.  It’s a little like what you’d expect from M. Night’s ideas, and a little bit of the show ‘Lost.’

Wayward Pines also has an awesome cast!

The difference between ‘Sense8’ and ‘Wayward Pines’ is that ‘Sense8’ was created and directed by the Warchowskis.  ‘Wayward Pines,’ was NOT created by M. Night.  It was a book.  AND, he did NOT direct it. So my comparison between the two regarding people’s speculation of these creators doing better on TV really ends with the fact that their names were attached to the projects.  For now, we won’t really know if M. Night’s own material and talents as a director would translate to better television than film, but maybe for what he chooses to produce.

The Visit

I saw an interview with M. Night about his film ‘The Visit,’ and I must say, I was impressed.  It totally made me feel like I understood him more as a filmmaker and creator.  He convinced me that he was truly an artist who is passionate about what he does, and understands and knows what he’s talking about!  He basically self-financed this film, so he had no studios to answer to.  Apparently, unlike his other films, this allowed him to film exactly how and what he wanted.  He said there are parts of the film that wouldn’t have been approved by studios.  So, is this the reason why his previous films failed to do better?  Would this self-financed film, without studio overseers make the argument that it was the studios all along that held him back and thus created films that didn’t become blockbuster hits?  Hmm.  Time will tell.  Even if ‘The Visit’ IS good, it could be a fluke right?

I have to say, ‘The Visit’ IS good.  Not mind-blowing good, but better than his previous studio stuff from the past decade.  It’s very entertaining.  Though I’m not sure that I thought his previous films were horrible by comparison.  They just aren’t films I’d pay to go see in the theater.  ‘The Visit’s’ buzz and the interview I saw were enough to get me to the theater to see it.  My only gripe I feel is a M. Night staple.  Sometimes his films feel a little tongue-and-cheek and a bit preachy.  ‘The Visit’ wasn’t an exception, but it worked for me.  It was quirky and had a personality.

What makes ‘The Visit’ good?  The performances are solid, the story simple, and a great twist at the end.  The story is interesting.  I supposed people didn’t like his film ‘The Happening’ because the threat was too hokey?  I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it.  One thing about ‘The Visit’ is that it’s funny, the quirkiness I mentioned earlier.  It’s intentionally funny, but not like over-the-top funny.  Maybe it’s more like ‘reality’ funny?  Ok, what does that mean?  Lets put it this way, it’s not funny like ‘Drag Me To Hell,’ a Sam Raimi produced film that is so crazy over-the-top with it’s violence, that it’s cartoony and so so funny, intentionally.

I think the over-the-topness was making up for the fact that it was PG-13.  It was almost a comedy.  This aspect of ‘Drag Me To Hell’ made the film in my opinion.

OMG, I want to see this again!  I remember laughing my head off in the theaters!  I was SO MUCH FUN!!!

It was a cool, slick film.  ‘The Visit,’ is not funny like that overall, but there are some parts that might be.  Otherwise, it’s more based in reality, and the characterizations I guess, which is nice to see.

One other interesting thing is that it’s another found footage type of film.  Ok, it’s not found footage, as much as it’s like a mockcumentary with handheld shots by the characters, blah blah, you know the deal. Shyamalan does a really great job at it.  It’s done very well.  It’s almost a classroom instruction-perfect example of these type of films.  Also, the mother, all her lines are done through a laptop, which is pretty cool.

I would’ve liked to see ‘The Visit’ go a little further with its stakes, and shocker type moments.  Maybe because it’s PG-13, but that didn’t stop ‘Drag Me To Hell.’  So what did he do that studios might not have let him do?  I have a few guesses.  I won’t spoil them, but those moments were good.  I think they were moments that were borderline ‘Drag Me To Hell’ over-the-top shocker fun which I encourage because it’s refreshing to own up to the absurdity of some things.  But, I still wanted a little more.  Perhaps I’m jaded from so much of the torture-porn that’s been so popular in the past decade.

So is it a coincidence that ‘The Visit’ happens to be better than his films of the last decade, OR is it because it’s not a studio film?  As I said, we’ll just have to wait to see more from Shyamalan moving forward.  I believe ‘The Visit’ came out with very good reviews and buzz that it’s M. Night’s comeback, and it might well be!  I think the film did pretty well at the box-office, at least as it relates to the actual cost of the film.  Perhaps it did well enough for studios to rethink how they work with M. Night?  Maybe they’ll give him a go with studio money, and let him do as he pleases?  Maybe.  But then I wonder, if they gave him that freedom after his initial success and lost it.  He was pumping out so many films.  If that was the case, WHEN did they start to doubt him?

Either way, I’m happy for him.  He deserves it.  I really really liked what he had to say in the interview.  I believe in him.  So is this his comeback?  I hope so.  If anything it’s a start of one.  Lets see what happens with his next film.  That should really solidify any opinions.

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