can m. night shyamalan redeem himself?

I’m writing this while still being caught up with Inception and its crucial last scene ending. I want to call it a “twist-ending” but I think it’d be more correct to call it an ambiguous ending, since so many people are debating about it and what it means to the overall story. I’m not about to say what I think here in this format, but if you want to discuss further, write a comment, or send me a message and we’ll chat. But this only applies if you’ve seen the movie… and you should if you haven’t!

As for Mr. M. Night… we tend to relate him to having a shocking twist at the end of his movies. Even Robot Chicken made a sketch out of it! Major spoilers follow: The Sixth Sense has Bruce Willis dead the whole time, and we, as audience, don’t realize it until the end. In Unbreakable, Bruce Willis is being crafted as a superhero. Although is that really a twist? Is there a twist in Signs? That was a mixed bag overall for people, but I liked it. It relied more on suspense and the payoff was decent. The Village I personally yawned on and discovered “the twist” long before it happened–the monster thing was a costume someone wore to keep people from venturing in the woods and away from the village, and the village itself was nestled in or on the outskirts of modern day town. Lady in the Water was forgettable. I remember watching it and thought it was a good story, but I couldn’t tell you how it ended because I don’t remember nor do I have the need or want to see it again to remember. And then we have The Happening. The trees/plants were making people commit suicide. I don’t know if you want to qualify that as a twist or what, but that was that movie’s punch line. Humanity was getting out of hand, so nature took matter into its own leaves. This was just too morbid and depressing for me, overall.

I haven’t seen The Last Airbender, which I’ve already heard horrible things about. Not only that, people keep asking (rhetorically) how he keeps getting money and attracting stars to his projects with all these failures (according to the box office, top critics and everyday movie goers like you and me).

But here I am, constantly trying to defend him as a storyteller. I respect the writer/directors and sometimes value their work a bit higher than other films, just because they have more control over their projects than if a writer sold a script to a studio and that would be the last said writer would have any say in the story he or she penned. That’s not always the case though. And I usually like where Night’s mind is at, because it’s something new or unique. But the problem is having a great build up with a payoff this is equal or greater. Sometimes you hit the mark, sometimes you don’t.

So I recently saw the trailer for the next Shyamalan picture. I want to have high hopes for this one. Although he’s not directing, this is apparently one of many stories he has in his mind and letting someone else direct. If it bombs, my guess is the majority of fingers will be pointing at Night for its failure. I could be wrong though. And for the sake of storytelling, I hope it does well. Horror really isn’t my genre, but I’d get around to watching it sooner or later.

The trailer looks promising. The premise seems simple enough, full of mystery and intrigue. It’ll probably be packed with a bunch of gotcha-scares before it’ll deliver on some of the real ones. And perhaps this movie will do for elevators what Psycho did for showers. Perhaps. I know there are a few terrorized elevator movies out there already, but none that I can remember going to mainstream cinemas.

So if this film works out, would we be able to forgive Mr. Shyamalan for a few of past films that so many seem to hate him for? Can he be redeemed? Can he ever follow up to the success of The Sixth Sense? And, unless he wants to be the Twist King, will we ever view him as a great storyteller and filmmaker? Only time will tell. Maybe 20 years from now, we will look back on his movies (which will probably have a cult following) and regard him as one of the greats. One thing is for certain, he tells the stories he wants to tell, how he wants to tell them. And for that, I respect him still. But I refuse to watch The Happening again, sorry.

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2 comments on “can m. night shyamalan redeem himself?
  1. I haven’t seen Inception so after reading the first sentence, I just skimmed in case there were any spoilers. However, M. Knight Shyamalan is one of my absolute favorite storytellers. I don’t think he needs to redeem himself because he never did anything that sucks. The problem is that he hit it way too big early in his career with the “I See Dead People” movie. That would be hard for anyone to top. So, basically, anything he does after that is going to suffer by comparison.

    Anyway, I thought Lady in the Water was great and I loved Signs and the Village. I have to agree that Unbreakable was not all that awesome. Anyway, I’m a fan and looking forward to this new one.

    • t. sterling says:

      I will give Lady in the Water another viewing because apparently, I was the only one that liked it (in my family). But since I can’t remember it that well, I don’t think it makes me a credible critic. The Village I’m still not crazy about… and not because of the alleged “twist” …I think it was more of the time period the people lived in. Reminded me too much of Puritans or Salem times and I just never liked that setting. It’s kinda weird.

      I still have high hopes for this new one though. I don’t think anyone has tackled a scary elevator successfully since the Tower of Terror at Disney World. :oP

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July 2010
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