The Visit and Split are films that have effective parts, which, like most of Shyamalan’s work, often overshadow their underdeveloped, thoughtless foundations. Like the crew’s feelings for Unbreakable (feelings I share), they start strong, and seem to be getting better and better, only for a final act that completely undermines everything that came before.
But unlike Unbreakable, or Signs, both of which are basically awesome until their incredibly weak final acts which you suddenly realize are built on the absolute weakest, nearly non sequiturial seeds planted earlier in the film, The Visit and Split are undermined in their final acts by ridiculous, utterly infantile, arguably offensive readings on mental health revealed in their patented M. Night Twists™.
The Visit is about some kids who go to spend the weekend at grandma and grandpa’s house, only to be surprised when grandma and grandpa start acting strange. Turns out grandma and grandpa aren’t grandma and grandpa at all! They’re actually escapees from the local insane asylum!!! So guess what they do? Groan weirdly, run around, stand in place, staring for hours, and play with human shit. They’re not haunted or possessed, they’re just freakin nuts!! Give me a fucking break dude. Did your kid hear this urban legend on the playground?
Split is more complex, but no better. It’s about a dude with dissociative identity disorder, burdened by 23 wholly different personalities, one of whom kidnaps some teenage girls. [CW: spoilers for Split contain references to self-harm and abuse] Ultimately, a secret 24th personality, The Beast, is revealed, which literally gives him superhuman strength and damage resistance properties like he’s fucking Wolverine. When the Final Girl escapes, The Beast discovers that she has many cutting scars, a result of her sexual trauma at the hands of her uncle. He deems her effectively superior for her suffering (like him - he was also traumatized by trusted adults in his youth), allowing her to leave.
So whereas The Visit is about how mental illness is super scary, this one feels like a knee-jerk first attempt at wokeness: maybe trauma actually makes us stronger? Again, give me a fucking break.
Shyamalan is great at making movies that are impressive and thrilling to witness, but the aftertaste is almost always just revolting.