"I get a giggle out of people not knowing whether to be horrified or laugh."
"I have such a close crew in Philadelphia, these were crew members that I worked with before and they kept it all very quiet," he explains. "I rented a farm for six months and just didn't leave it." He directed this film on a budget of just $5 million — a far cry from After Earth's $130 million budget.
Sitting in an isolated room of a cottage at Sydney's Centennial Parklands, Shyamalan looks relaxed as he reclines on a leather lounge while reflecting on his return to horror and thriller films — the same genre that saw him become one of the hottest directors of the 2000s thanks to films like The Sixth Sense and Signs.
"Don't lead with the plot, that's going to be an artificial process for you and [is] going to make you feel like you're betraying yourself."
"I enjoy this style of filmmaking," he smiles. "I'm in the mode of doing dark humour, I get a giggle out of people not knowing whether to be horrified or laugh."
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The Visit's plot centres on two adolescents who head to their grandparents for a rare trip, only to encounter creepy occurrences after nightfall. The Visit does not come without the standard Shyamalan plot twist and while his films are renowned for their shocking conclusions, the filmmaker is adamant that he never builds them around an ending.
"If I was teaching a course on writing that's what I would say to everybody: 'Don't lead with the plot, that's going to be an artificial process for you and [is] going to make you feel like you're betraying yourself. Because what if you come up with a character that's close to you, but does not fit that plot?'
"I'm always making films about families. One lady said to me, 'How can you have written Stuart Little and then The Visit?' and I'm like, they're very similar! They're about fractured families. One is for a children's audience and then this is for an older audience, a darker audience."
His previous films have boasted a litter of massive Hollywood names such as Will Smith, Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson to name a few. In The Visit, his main stars are young Aussie actors, Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge, and Shyamalan admits the approach to making this film was entirely different.
"Stars are stars for a reason. They have this incredible way about them and you have to deal with that. They have become extremely famous and successful based on that skillset. With kids, their craft is what you need to work on. They're so themselves that it's such a beautiful thing."
As well as tossing up whether or not to make a follow-up season to this year's incredibly successful TV series, Wayward Pines, Shyamalan reveals he is working on a new thriller, though his experience on The Visit has completely changed the way he wants to create films.
"In some ways it's what I thought I would always do. The amount of money really isn't important… if I could dream my next three, four films, they would be a whole string of these."