It might not seem like it now, but it wasn’t so long ago that M. Night Shyamalan was Hollywood’s beloved suspense wunderkind, and even when you consider what his career’s become since, his early run of films — The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs — is still pretty impressive. Of course, after those films came stuff like The Village, The Happening, and After Earth, and the rest is history. Shyamalan went from a powerhouse to a punchline, but despite being lampooned by everyone from South Park to Robot Chicken to that guy you know who used to work at Blockbuster, he’s still making movies.
The trailer for Shyamalan’s latest, The Visit, dropped this week, and while I don’t want to jump the gun and say that the suspense master is back for good, it definitely gives me hope. The setup is simple: Two siblings head to the idyllic home of their grandparents (Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan) for an extended visit. The grandparents are warm, inviting, and happy to see their grandchildren, but give one warning: Don’t leave your room after 9:30 p.m. Of course, kids being kids, they are eventually drawn out in the middle of the night by strange sounds, only to find their grandparents acting absolutely bonkers. Nana is clawing at the walls, Papa is aiming his gun at his own face and then claiming he was just cleaning it, and things only get creepier from there. By the end of the trailer, the found-footage immediacy of it all has wound you up into a ball of tension, and though Shyamalan may still end up letting us down with another of his ridiculous twists, The Visit has enough pure dread built into it to at least make me want to know where all this is headed.
The Visit hits theaters September 11.