Apparently, M. Night Shaymalan wants to fuck up your memories of Nana and Pop-Pop’s house now too. I just don’t know if I trust him to do it. “Signs” (2002) was fantastic and “The Sixth Sense” (1999) emotionally destroyed me in a way that only a truly good film can. However,subsequent post-Sixth-Sense releases (with the exception of Unbreakable which I still haven’t seen for some reason) have left me wanting for good reason but part of that could be my fault.
Suspense is where Shyamalan excels and thus, what I expect to see from him. Even releases like “The Happening” (2008) and “The Village” (2004) started off strong and really lost steam in the second halves. “The Village” in particular didn’t really lose me until the last 15 minutes or so. However, no one can excuse his endeavors into full fledged action like “After Earth” (2013) and “The Last Airbender”. For the record, I’ve tried to watch both and turned them off. Some movies are so bad they’re enjoyable, but these couldn’t even be that.
But after “The Sixth Sense” delivered in every aspect, perhaps it’s unfair to hold him to that level of expectation for the rest of his career which is precisely what I’m doing. “The Sixth Sense” is considered a horror film classic despite only being 16 years old now. For Shayamalan’s third time directing, the film still appears ageless and takes you from frightening to heartfelt and back again. It’s mythology akin to Australia’s “The Babadook” (2014) in although we know where we are, the story itself could be transplanted to virtually any time and place with limited changes and still be relevant. Three years later, “Signs” attempted to replicate that mythological formula and succeeded in universal acclaim, despite being not nearly as pristine as its successor. Twice, he brought suspense and horror back to the masses, but perhaps it’s time to take it to a smaller, niche market instead of aiming for global box-office draws.
There’s a chance that smaller budgets and straightforward suspense/horror setups could bring regular, renewed success. This film could be fun and well directed, but the words “found footage” and IMDb’s currently listing it as a “horror/comedy” worry me. There are legitimately funny moments in his films, but it could skew too much comedy and not enough horror. The thing is I feel like he could do it. With the focus on story and pacing, if anybody could make it effective, I feel he could. M. Night Shyamalan succeeds in producing stories with enough bite to get me to watch them, so I’ll commit. But he’s already going in with the specter of “The Happening” hanging over him and the ghosts of “The Sixth Sense” behind him. Nah, it’s cool.
I’ll see it in theaters. I’ll go if someone else buys my ticket. I will watch it…when it’s released on Netflix.
featured image courtesy of IMBb & Wikipedia
The Last Airbender broke my heart. The source material is so good, it took a serious amount of effort to destroy it the way he did .
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If it helps, you’re not alone in that. The fact that it already had a huge following made matters worse and it’ll be a while before he redeems himself for it!