M. Night Shyamalan's latest is a decidedly smaller film than his previous outings, and was much better for it. Without much gimmicks, and with Blumhouse behind the scene, the focus was on the story and atmosphere which was effectively intriguing and unsettling. Although Shyamalan's reputation still cast a large shadow over the project, and the climax was expected and did not hit high enough a mark,
Using a variation of the found-footage technique, Shyamalan managed to make a horror/thriller story that was grounded more in reality and relied less - but not absolutely none - on jump scares but more on suspense and mood. Having said that, the "twist" itself was expected but at least not outrageous - it was not the trees!! - although the final climatic sequence could have been edited and shot a bit more creepy.
The child actors here were actually good, which was important since they were the anchors of the show, and they had good chemistry together as siblings. Neither was overtly overbearing, annoying or boring which made them interesting enough to follow through.
The real star, however, was the grandmother: Deanna Dunagan. She was frankly rather amazing to watch. Equal moments of friendly and loving and creepy as creepy goes! The grandfather, less so.
Shyamalan has always been rather in tune with pop culture which does often help to connect his films with a young audience, and with the success of the addictive Wayward Pines, here's hoping for a total comeback for him!