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M. Night Shyamalan Had an "Arthouse" Cut Of 2015's The Visit We'll Never Get to See
"I'm always sad that's not in there, but it went away for the right reasons," Shyamalan explained about The Visit.
Following the back-to-back misfires that were The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), moviegoers began to wonder if writer/director M. Night Shyamalan had simply lost his touch. Was the filmmaker who had refreshingly disrupted the ghost story, superhero, and alien invasion genres with The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), and Signs (2002) becoming a creative shell of his former self?
He effectively proved the naysayers wrong in 2015 with the release of a back-to-basics found footage horror flick, The Visit (watch it on Peacock right here), a mystery-thriller centered around two kids who suspect something to be very wrong with grandparents they've never met before.
Produced on a meager budget of just $5 million, the project (backed by Blumhouse and Universal Pictures) brought in favorable reviews and close to $100 million at the worldwide box office, effectively restoring Shyamalan's reputation as a genre force to be reckoned with.
The "arthouse" cut of The Visit we'll never get to see
A stripped-down, less is more, almost indie approach was the right move here. After all, the director needed to rebuild goodwill by reminding audiences of why they'd fallen in love with his movies in the first place.
Anything too avant-garde or excessive might have run the risk of alienation and another failure, which is why Shyamalan smartly decided against an "arthouse cut" of The Visit that will most likely never see the light of day. "The very first cut was the arthouse cut, and that one was really esoteric," he revealed during a 2015 interview with MovieWeb.
The director continued: "There was this scene ... it got cut pretty early, but it's neither the comedy nor the horror. It was this bizarre speech that Pop Pop [Peter McRobbie] gives in the car, about his feeling about life. It's so weird, and it gets more and more weird and the kids are like, 'What is this?' That was kind of the arthouse part of the movie, this twisted philosophy, and I'm always sad that's not in there, but it went away for the right reasons. You have to honor one genre above all, and that one genre we honored above all, interestingly enough, was the psychological thriller. That is what the movie is, and whatever comedy could stick to it, whatever heart could stick to it, that's what ended up being the appropriate balance, that was holding everything together."
Following the success of The Visit, Shyamalan set up shop at Universal Pictures, cranking out two sequels to Unbreakable — Split (2016) and Glass (2019) — as well as two book-to-screen adaptations: Old (2021) and Knock at the Cabin (2023). That prolific partnership came to an end earlier this year when Shyamalan signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros.
The Visit is now streaming on Peacock.