It hasn't been the best couple of years for M. Night Shyamalan. After the disastrous evil-wind movie 'The Happening,' the disastrous kid-with-good-wind-powers movie 'The Last Airbender,' and the disastrous kid-with-strange-Will-Smith-advice movie 'After Earth,' the man Newsweek once anointed "The Next Spielberg" has transformed into something more like "The Current Punching Bag." Shyamalan's name became a joke almost as quickly as it became synonymous with a certain kind of smart, twisty thriller. Now Shyamalan could use a hit the way I could use spellling lesssons.

He'll try to get it with 'The Visit,' which Deadline reports Universal has just picked up for worldwide distribution. The film, which Shyamalan has been working on quietly for a while, will open in U.S. theaters in a little under a year, on September 11, 2015. Here's the plot synopsis:

'The Visit' focuses on a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a week long trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.

Word of the film, which was previously called 'Sundowning,' leaked out last spring, when it was revealed that Shyamalan was getting back to his roots with a low-budget horror film that co-starred Kathryn Hahn ('Step Brothers,' various other hilarious comedies) as the single mom of the kids who take the fateful trip of the title. "Sundowning" is apparently a symptom of Alzheimer's disease, which sees the afflicted particularly disoriented and agitated as day turns to night. At this point, there are no further specifics on the story, but there are all kinds of spooky possibilities one can imagine from that basic setup.

Whether Shyamalan gets there or not remains to be seen. Certainly, his recent track record doesn't suggest he's primed for a comeback. But there's no denying the power of his early films, 'The Sixth Sense' and 'Unbreakable' particularly. The guy who made those movies is still in there, somewhere. I tend to hope the chances of us seeing him again aren't growing smaller every day.