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M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum Serve Up Laughs and Scares at ‘The Visit’ Premiere

M. Night Shyamalan‘s last two films saw the director adapting a cartoon and going to space with Will Smith. Neither film was particularly well-received, so fans of the director might be relieved that with his new film “The Visit,” which premiered Tuesday at New York’s Regal Theaters, Shyamalan is trying to scare you again. Just don’t call it a horror film.

“My sweet spot is psychological thrillers. This is the scariest of those, but I still wouldn’t call it a horror film,” he told Variety. “They are always thrillers. ‘What’s happening to the characters? What’s the psychology you’re trying to work through?'”

Shyamalan is famously protective of his twists, so without revealing too much, it’s safe to say the somewhat less-serious tone of “The Visit” will surprise moviegoers, which he says was part of the plan.

“It was really fun to add a lot of humor to this movie. That was the main, shocking difference to me. I went with it for humor in that way,” he said. “I loved writing (humor) in ‘Stuart Little,’ I
dabbled in it in ‘Signs,’ I dabbled in it in ‘Lady in the Water,’ but I never went full out with it from beginning to end, so this was really fun.”

Shyamalan made the film independently alongside producer Jason Blum, best known for “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge,” who told Variety he “pursued Night for a long time, and he finally got excited about doing a low-budget movie,” he said. “I think the low budget made it more authentic, it made it scarier.”

Perhaps counterintuitively, the prospect of Shyamalan working with a lower budget than normal was one of the main selling points for star Kathryn Hahn, an actress best known for comedies and indie films like “Parks and Recreation” and “Afternoon Delight.” She said she loves films in the thriller genre like “Let the Right One In” and “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

“He’s such an incredible writer, I knew it was going to be him without the huge studio noise, and I was really excited to get in the dirt with him and make something from the ground up,” she said. “From the beginning (of his career), from “The Sixth Sense” and just seeing how the relationships were paramount… I was excited to get in there.”

Universal releases “The Visit” on Sept. 11.

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