M. Night Shymalan’s name tends to mostly be used as a punchline nowadays, which is too bad since he’s got some intriguing projects in the pipeline. He directed the pilot for the 2015 limited series Wayward Pines; has a cross-country drama screenplay titled Labor of Love that he wants to shoot with Bruce Willis starring; and recently, has been quietly collaborating with Blumhouse Productions’ head Jason Blum on an original low-budget thriller, known as Sundowning</em>.
The Sundowning project now has the more conventional (or boring, take your pick) title of The Visit, and the film is going to be distributed by Universal Pictures. Blumhouse, of course, specializes in producing original, micro-budgeted, horror/thriller fare (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, etc.), so this project sounds right up the production house’s alley.
The Visit, which Shyamalan filmed in Philadelphia earlier this year, is reported to star Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) as a young boy who, along with his sister, is sent by his mother (Kathryn Hahn) to visit his grandparents for a week. The older couple live on a remote Pennsylvania farm, and it doesn’t take long before Oxenbould and his sister realize that their elders are – as the official synopsis puts it – “involved in something deeply disturbing” that puts the lives of their grandchildren at serious risk.
There’s no mention yet of what this terrible secret could be, but knowing Shyamalan there could well be a supernatural element to the story for The Visit (which he both wrote and directed). The original title, Sundowning, refers to a condition where dementia patients grow increasingly restless and confused during and/or right after sunset – could that offer a clue to what this movie’s “deeply disturbing” mystery is?
Shyamalan’s The Visit is now set to open in U.S. theaters on September 11th, 2015, opposite the drama/thriller Triple Nine. September is generally a slower-going month for film buffs, though seeing as Shyamalan’s name is almost box office poison at this stage (marketing for his last movie, After Earth, never even mentioned Shyamalan’s involvement), The Visit should benefit from having less competition at the box office.
We’ve been hard on Shyamalan in the past (who hasn’t by now though, right?), but we maintain that the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable director is still capable of being a good storyteller – when he’s not focused on big-budget spectacle, concocting gimmicky plot twists, and/or sermonizing, anyway. It sounds as though The Visit is an intentional move by Shyamalan to get some fresh air – away from the studio system – and return to his essentials as a filmmaker (even more than his story work on Devil was) – and frankly, we hope it works out for him.
The Visit opens in U.S. theaters on September 11th, 2015.