I first saw The Sixth Sense as a teenager, before I had any real interest in horror. That movie disturbed me deeply. The terrifying scenarios and the way they were shot resonated uncannily with my own nightmares.
Since then, it’s become popular to condemn Shyamalan’s movies. While I remained a fan longer than most (I loved The Village), I was forced to agree with the majority sentiment that he’d lost his touch.
Then I saw The Visit, and I was reminded why, more than a decade later, I still have trouble making myself watch The Sixth Sense.
The Visit creeped me out.
At times it’s just the grandparents acting weird in their old age. Then night falls, and it goes beyond weird. Shyamalan uses what you might call jump scares, but they work because after the initial shock wears off, you realize what you’re looking at is scary enough on its own.
I typically don’t bother with anything except supernatural horror. When a horror movie’s villain is “natural”—an evil child, a serial killer, a disease—I don’t find them scary. At least, I don’t get the chilling, goose-bump-raising terror I seek. I want ghosts. I want to be unsettled by the unknown. By those criteria, you wouldn’t think The Visit was my cup of tea, but the way Shyamalan handles the scares makes it feel like a ghost story. And from a certain perspective, it is. The ghosts just haven’t gotten around to leaving the bodies yet.
Old people are scary. I say this knowing full well that, barring some tragedy, I’ll become one myself someday. And that is what frightened me most about this movie. One day, I will be a frail old man whose body gradually betrays me. My mind will dull and fall to pieces. I will fade into the background of life, irrelevant. Maybe a little crazy. And maybe, when it’s over, no one will even notice that I’m gone.