I think the last M. Night Shyamalan I saw was about trees killing people or something like that, so I had to really take a deep breathe before plunging into another one of his movies. I liked Sixth Sense, but really, Unbreakable and Signs are my two favourites of his. This movie was a far cry from any of his previous work, but it was also a reminder that he is still a masterful storyteller, even with no special effects and a virtually unknown cast.
The trailer gives the impression that the kids are terrorised by the grandparents, but that’s not exactly what happens. The mother decides to send her two kids to see her parents after she hasn’t seen or spoken to them in fifteen years. The kids arrive and the grandparents are predictably old and a little odd. Their behaviour continues to escalate from unusual to strange to terrifying. It isn’t until the kids have the breakthrough revelation that they know something is amiss that things go awry. I won’t SPOIL the movie for you, but I had an inkling of what was happening and was correct on my guess.
The heart of the story is really what sticks with you, if anything does. The idea that the mother walks out on her parents at nineteen, then sends her kids back for a week, gives the impression of today’s society of broken families and broken lives. More than that (SPOILER), there is a distinct undertone to doing good deeds. The real grandparents had been volunteering at a local hospital, which is how they ended up garnering the attention of two whacked out old coots who killed the real grandparents and posed as them to spend time with kids. It is sick and twisted and the ending almost mocks the seriousness of the two children killing their fake grandparents. In many ways, this movie is probably far more disturbing than it is played off to be. I’m not sure I can recommend it, but I did give it 4/5 stars on Rotten Tomatoes.