M. Night Shyamalan returns with Glass and now the cast of the film take us behind the scenes. So sit back and enjoy as Sarah Paulson (12 Years A Slave, American Horror Story), James McAvoy (Filth, The Last King Of Scotland) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) take us behind the scenes.
One of the trickiest genres of film to bring to the big screen is the psychological thriller. While films like Silence Of The Lambs and Se7en have worked over the years there have also been a mountain of films that have failed so badly that audiences have found themselves laughing at times when the director was expecting they should have been cowering with fear – yes I am looking at you Taylor Lautner in Abduction.
One of the men over the past few years that has virtually made the genre his own has been director M. Night Shyamalan. Films like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village have made him a king of the genre. Therefore there was little surprise that when it was announced his latest film would star James McAvoy, the actor that most people would now as Dr. Charles Xavier from the X-Men franchise, that film lovers right around the world marked down Split as one of the must see films of 2017.
The director now sits down to chat about the film which seems to have caused controversy in Australia. While some say the film is one of the best thrillers in years others have criticised the way the film handles mental illness.
While he didn’t want the film to be so controversial Shyamalan says he did want the movie to make people think. “I wanted to take something scientific and psychological proven and keep going with it. So the first two steps have been proven and the third step was not proven but instead was a question, the question is do you believe what I am suggesting. It’s almost like a question saying ‘if you believe that you get stressed and your blood pressure goes up , do you believe that? Do you believe if I give you a pill and it’s full of sugar but I tell you it’s a cure and a portion of the population cures themselves of all diseases, do you believe that? It’s true, it’s a fact, it’s in every scientific study where the medicine is pitted against the placebo effect, so if you buy me there then I’m going to introduce you to D.I.D. where every single person believes they are who they are one hundred per cent. One personality has diabetes, one has high cholosterial, one can’t see, with each one their body and chemicals change as they get to each one, and now I have you right there so that is being debated right around the world right now… what I just said. I believe that is a fact but it is still being debated. Now I’m going to ask one more question… one that hasn’t been asked before – what if somebody with D.I.D. thought that one of their personalities was supernatural? Would they have supernatural powers – that’s the question that I’m asking.”
One of the hardest decisions that Shyamalan had to make when putting Split together was to work out which actor could actually play a role that demanded almost ten different personalities and he is quick to admit that McAvoy had questions about the films as well. “I sent him the script and he said ‘well what is the name of the character that I am playing so I don’t get confused,’” he explains. “So I said I can’t tell you that, just read the script and he was like… WHAT??? He didn’t understand what I was saying because he was looking at the different characters in the script and saying ‘I’m playing this, I’m playing this.’ But I think in the script the first character is called The Neat Freak so I said you are The Neat Freak but just keep reading and so I think he was thinking that it would be a hoot and I don’t think he really concentrated on the possible pitfalls. I think he just thought it was so whacked and crazy, but he is up for anything so he was thinking this is great, it’s normal let’s just have some fun.”
“He was yes right away when he read it,” says Shyamalan nodding. “ He was reading it and saying this script is crazy and he was like ‘hell let’s do it.’ He was up to do something so exposing and so demanding that he was just like ‘yeah let’s do it.’ I was shocked and I was thinking does he understand what I’m going to ask him to do in this piece and he did but he is so fearless, I mean I have never worked with an actor that is so fearless. I ask him to do something and he is always asking to go further. So I would say to him there is a fine line when you are playing Hedwig, you are not playing a dumb adult, that’s not how most people would play the part, they wouldn’t play it as a child, you are playing a very smart child who just doesn’t have life experience. Hedwig is very smart, he is very smart he just happens to be ten…. he is a very smart ten year old. So whenever he was playing it I would so ‘no you are playing a dumb adult, that was a dumb adult and that is not what we are doing… super smart ten year old. Use your eyes you are a super smart ten year old, you don’t know what that gesture means that you just did, you don’t know what she just did, was that flirting? Is that what they call flirting? Just think through it, don’t be an idiot. Just walk to her because that creates humour and you aren’t equipped for these things. SO it’s great to be able to talk like that and be able to work through each character and make them each the hero of their own story.”
It is easy to see how proud of McAvoy’s work Shyamalan is and he continues to prasie his leading man. “We got into that wonderful rhythm where the things that were sacred to me weren’t touched and were only heightened and then he would bring this incredible new aspect to the table, which is what you dream of when you are a writer/director. When what you imagine is being honoured but enhanced. James’ physicality is the great X-factor of the movie you know – how he can carry himself as Patricia or how he literally thinks he has shrunk three inches when he is playing Hedwig or he gets very stiff and strong when he is playing Dennis.”
Summary: Young filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her wannabe rapper brother Tyler (Ben Oxenbould) decide to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time when their mother (Kathryn Hahn) decides to take some time out and go on a cruise.
At first the pair are excited about their visit and Becca decides that the trip would make a good subject for a documentary. However, things start to become creepy for the two when their grandparents start acting strange and they are forbidden to leave their bedrooms after bedtime. Is something sinister occurring?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
There is no doubt about it the once promising career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is on the rocks. He burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense but then came average films like The Happening which were quickly followed by some of the worst movies ever made – The Last Airbender and After Earth. Well it seems as though Shyamalan listened to the public and the critics because he has decided to do something very different with his latest film The Visit. He goes right back to the drawing board and has decided to make a low budget film with a cast of virtual unknowns.
Now that might be enough to make some people groan, but it seems to be the right decision for Shyamalan as returning to the basic style of filmmaking has meant that he has had to rely on a good script to impress the audience rather than millions of dollars worth of special effects. And I’ll admit it to my surprise he manages to pull it off very well with a film that has now even seemed to win horror fans… some of the hardest film lovers to impress.
Early on The Visit did have me wondering what the hell I had walked into as the character Tyler started to rap… yes rap like a poor man’s Eminem. After a while though I realised that Shyamalan had just inserted this to get some laughs from the audience or even to make this film a little bit different, no instead this was something that had been lacking from his films for quite a while – characterisation. With the important aspect of a screenplay welcomed back Shymalan then takes his audience on a journey that provides a more than enough scares along the way, with the odd chuckle and then delivers its payload with a twist that actually drew sounds of amazement and fear out of the audience I was sitting with. Yes Shymalan has not only managed to deliver a horror with a mix of comedy, but also made that a damn good horror film at the same time.
It does feel that The Visit’s fairytale style story allows Shyamalan to take a journey make to his childhood and he mostly seems to do this through the character of Becca who you can easily imagine is the female version of what the wannabe-filmmaker teenage Shymalan would have been like. Maybe it’s because of this personal touch or perhaps because the film actually works but this was one time when the ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking didn’t make me want to leave the cinema.
Of course one of the dangers of making a low budget film with no names acting is that the acting is going to be below par but that certainly isn’t the case here. Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan bring a brilliant level of creepiness to this film while the young Australian stars Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge put in mature performances well above their ages. This is something that fans of Australian television series Puberty Blues have come to expect from Oxenbould and he continue to shape himself to be one of the big international stars of the future.
Well its official people, it has taken a few bombs along the way but M. Night Shyamalan is back with one of the most impressive horror flicks of the year. The back to basics storytelling approach that Shyamalan takes with The Visit results in a horror flick with an amazing twist that is guaranteed to provide a few scares for its audience.
The following is David Griffiths’ second The Visit review which originally appeared in Heavy Magazine
While it may have been bombarded by the amount of blockbusters that have been released recently new horror thriller The Visit is actually a film that has a lot riding on it – the most important thing being the career of its writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Shymalan was once the talk of Hollywood thanks to the fact that his film The Sixth Sense was classed as a classic, but since then Shyamalan has never reached those heights again and his past two films The Last Airbender and After Earth saw him get crucified by critics and film lovers so badly he now needs a hit film to get some credibility back.
The Visit is a brave choice for Shymalan. It has a small budget, stars virtual no-names and decides to mix comedy and horror together – two genres that sometimes meet to create little more than a car crash. Shymalan’s The Visit presents itself like a fairytale. A mother (Kathryn Hahn – We’re The Millers) reluctantly allows her children, budding filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge – The Sisterhood Of Night) and wannabe rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould – Puberty Blues), to go and stay with her estranged parents. But then when the two kids arrive they find that Nana (Deanna Dunagan – Have A Little Faith) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie – Lincoln) behavior is strange to say the least.
The great news horror fan is that The Visit sees Shymalan back at his creepy best. He takes some huge gambles with this film and luckily they all pay off. Sure early on when young Tyler bursts into some pretty ordinary rapping you might groan but stick with it because that is just setting up his character and soon you find yourself embedded in an old style horror film that actually has enough scares to have you jumping in your seat. Oh and there is one hell of a twist that will leave you screaming WTF!!! Yes, it is such a surprise you will actually say it out loud.
Even the fact that this is largely a ‘found footage’ film doesn’t hold it back and for once a screenplay actually manages to include a few humorous parts into what is actually a pretty frightening horror film. Young stars Olivia DeJone and Ed Oxenbould do Australia proud and once again cinema fans can start to get excited about a film with the name M. Night Symalan attached to it.