Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
M. Night Shyamalan has fast become one of those Marmite directors, dividing people into two camps of love him/hate him. Myself being a big fan of his earlier films like Unbreakable and Signs, yet I could appreciate the criticism The Sixth Sense received from people who figured it out. But what I really like about Shyamalan work is his love for his art, his passion reminding myself very much of my own. He's a fanboy who watched films as a child and wanted to do nothing else but make movies, and that admiration and influences can be clearly seen. So regardless whether you like his films or not, no one can question his dedication and the fact he is a very good, and well respected filmmaker. Yes, some of his recently catalogue is questionable with films like The Last Airbender, The Happening and After Earth, but still his understanding and use of the moving image has always be exceptional. I have yet to watch The Visit.
This time round, he could safely hide behind the outstanding performance of James McAvoy's multiple characters causing quite the stir among critics and viewers alike, you could almost forget you're watching a Shyamalan film until the very end, which might be lost on audiences not familiar with his films. It is interesting to know that Joaquin Phoenix was originally casted to play the multitude of characters, especially seeing the viewers reactions to McAvoy's impressive range. Makes anyone wonder how this portrayal might have been with Phoenix instead.
The film is about McAvoy's team of personalities, that abduct three teenage girls and hold them captive for reasons unclear. We get to meet a few of McAvoy's 23 characters each with their own agendas, mannerisms and behaviours. There's inner conflict and potential betrayal, some characters being under "house" arrest simply for not agreeing with the other personalities. It's truly astonishing to watch McAvoy and I don't think I could ever watch him again the same way.
It's good to see Anya Taylor-Joy so soon after Morgan and The Witch, wondering if she's go for something completely different like her co-star Haley Lu Richardson, who in last year's Edge Of Seventeen. It's Jessica Sula that doesn't quite sell it for me. Taylor-Joy is brilliant as the introverted, unpopular girl with something to hide. Betty Buckley reunites with Shyamalan and plays a superb Doctor who is possibly the closest thing McAvoy has as a friend, and instead of treating him, she's mostly encouraging him to explore his personalities.
I think Shyamalan missed a trick and I know audiences would be demanding answers if I did it my way, but maybe we would be better not knowing what happens to the girls, though the full reasons as to why is left totally unexplained. But instead of what I consider a cheap shot, I think a more intriguing hint would have been more effective.
West Dylan Thordson replaces Shyamalan's regular composer James Newton Howard and gives us something quite sinister and very different. Different, probably to try to emphasise the various characters of McAvoy, but the score does cover a board range, the looming, low hums being what I remember most.
Shyamalan has stated this to be his most challenging and longest film to date, and while it shows McAvoy's amazing talent, I wouldn't place this as this finest, it's not anticlimactic, but I was excepting something, stronger? More horrifying than what was presented. Still, shyamafans should love the ending, haters gonna hate and non-fans unfamiliar with Shyamalan are going to wonder what all the fuss is about.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 5 just for the surprise ending, I'm a fan so it worked for me.