What Happened To The Great M. Night Shyamalan?
by Alex Billington
April 22, 2008
Is it just me or does everyone hate him? Over this past weekend at the New York Comic Con, and almost everywhere I go, I always talk with people about the upcoming summer and what they're looking forward to the most. One movie that seems to always get left out - The Happening. If I had to take a guess right now, I'd say it'll be one of the biggest flops alongside of The Love Guru and What Happens in Vegas this summer (but all that could change). Although The Happening isn't high up on my own list, it's discouraging to find that M. Night Shyamalan, whom I greatly appreciate as a filmmaker, has seemingly lost everything that made him great. Am I wrong? What happen to M. Night Shyamalan?
One of the biggest reasons for the lack of buzz is that general public has been culivating an increased hatred for his films, starting with Unbreakable in 2000. Then The Village really kicked the bucket and he followed that up with another mediocre fantasy romp with Lady in the Water. Screw what everyone else thinks, I'll stand my ground - I love M. Night Shyamalan and all of his films. The Village is still my personal favorite, with Unbreakable coming in a close second, and Signs, although it still scares the shit out of me, in a definite third. I don't care if you saw the end coming "a mile away", he's still a phenomenal filmmaker who has an incredibly unique vision. And that's why I'm still holding out hope for The Happening - I really think it could be pretty damn good.
Has all of this disdain for Shyamalan built up so much resistance that the buzz on The Happening is almost nonexistent, despite a fairly good first trailer? Have all of you forgotten how talented he really is or does The Happening genuinely look like another pretentious creation from a wanna-be James Cameron? And here's the kicker - I know a lot of people have read the script and know the ending to The Happening. Can they not look past the story and still go see the movie for its entertainment and filmmaking values?
I said it before and I'll say it again, not only is Shyamalan a great writer, but he brings so much more to the table as a director, too. His cast is always strong (Samuel Jackson and Bryce Dallas Howard stand out the most in my mind), his cinematography always vivid, his dialogue always poignant, and his ideas always well-executed. I've actually heard great things about The Happening already, including that the thrills get ramped up a lot more than what we've seen in the trailer. Harry over at AICN even originally said after reading the script that "this has the potential to be the best film M Night has made." With that kind of enthusiasm I'm not sure why there's no buzz on this and why it's potentially going to be such a huge flop. Yet again I ask - what happened to the great M. Night Shyamalan of the past?