You probably have a very strong opinion about M. Night Shyamalan. If you do, you’re not alone. Most love some of his films, some love most of his films, and some haven’t seen any of his films at all, but they still know his name.
Many of us vaguely remember when people were already calling writer/director M. Night Shyamalan the next Alfred Hitchcock. If we remember correctly, The Sixth Sense rocked the world for a good couple of months and affirmed its place as one of the only genuine horror films (along with The Exorcist and Rebecca) to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Groups of followers have managed to cling onto their Shyamalan fanship, but what they didn’t know was that their ability to cling to his twisty films stand as a testament to their taste in motion pictures.
As Shyamalan’s career blossomed, public opinion of him changed so much that some forgot when he was considered the “new master of suspense.” In fact, most people can remember the exact movie that nuked the fridge for them. Now with Shyamalan’s After Earth on the horizon moviegoers are having to ask themselves a polarizing question: When did you fall off the M.Night wagon?
Note: This particular trend only follows movies that Shyamalan has written and directed himself. After Earth will be the director’s first film since the universally hated Last Airbender.
1999-The Sixth Sense
Why people loved it: Although The Sixth Sense didn’t feature the first twist ending in Hollywood, it certainly shocked audiences enough to keep them on the lookout for the rest of their movie-watching career. Critics and audiences agreed that this was the film that would put new-coming director M. Night Shyamalan on the map. It’s spooky, atmospheric, dramatic, and has an ending that’s to die for (groaaaaaaan).
What hating it says about you: There are two accepted reasons for disliking The Sixth Sense. A) You’re the type of hard-working no-nonsense sports-watching badass that doesn’t have time for a horror flick about a kid that sees ghosts, or B) You’re the type of contrarion that thought that Avatar sucked and Titanic was over-rated. It’s not just an urge to hate James Cameron films, it’s just the compulsion to dislike things that gain popularity.The only other option is that you are a reasonable and level-minded movie enthusiast that simply didn’t like it, and if that’s the case, you never really jumped on the M.Night bandwagon and therefore had no real business falling off of it.
Why people love it:The fact that Shyamalan chose a modern-day super-hero story as his first post Sense project brought him a long way in the heart of the nerd. It’s not often that fans get treated to an original superhero story with a hero who’s face isn’t already plastered over New York, and it came as a surprise to many when Shyamalan’s mysterious follow-up to The Sixth Sense twisted its way into comic-book territory. It was meant to be an origin story with sequels, hence the sudden ending, and some are still hoping for a sequel, although it’s now starting to seem unlikely.
What hating it says about you: You hate genre bending, plain and simple. You don’t like to mix your steak and potatoes and you like your superheroes to be masked and famous. I mean, who wants to watch a superhero origin story about a hero that they’ve never heard of? I’ll even do you one further, who wants to watch a superhero origin story about a hero that’s got the hydrophoby? That’s right, our Superman has a Kryptonic weakness to water, something that you would assume he would have figured out at some point all this time that he’s been, you know, an organic being that needs water to survive.
Why people love it: If The Sixth Sense was where the NightWagon took off from, then Signs is when the wagon hit Main Street and everyone jumped on board along with their sticky younger brother. After the mainstream appeal ofThe Sixth Sense and the lukewarm reception of Unbreakable fans were happy to see the suspense master’s take on aliens, faith, and believing in something that’s beyond this world.
What hating it says about you: You could grow to appreciate the way that the alien monsters are handled in the film, but if you hated the movie, it was probably due to the main struggle, which is not between the aliens and Earth, but between Mel Gibson and his faith. You’re afraid of change, and would love to put your faith into a director who doesn’t evolve and just tells the same story over and over again. There’s no surprise ending here (unless irony can be considered a twist), so it’s not Shyamalan’s conventions that made you jump ship, it’s the fact that Shyamalan was distancing himself from them in order to tell a different kind of story. He was changing.
Why people love it: As Shyamalan’s first “period” horror film, The Village was marketed as the next legend in horror. Still working off of the momentum from Signs, Shyamalan shrouded the production in mystery, using color coded teaser images to draw film-goers into his new experiment in horror. When it came out, it turned into Shyamalan’s most divided work yet. Some hated it, and some hung on to the Shyamalan train by convincing themselves that it was more of a psychological experiment than a horror movie.
What hating it says about you: Right when you think the twist wagon has detached from the Shyamalan train, it sideswipes you right in the kidney. The Village marked Shyamalan’s return to the “big twist”, but what’s worse here is that the twist lied to you. The posters and trailers were promising something that The Village had a hard time delivering, and in a way that’s your fault, but in a bigger and more obvious way, it’s Touchstone’s fault. Regardless of who’s fault it is, you’re finding it hard to trust again after this movie, which is why you should be proud if this was your last stop on the NightWagon. You were able to give up the ghost before it started becoming abusive.
Why people love it: Since people were reaaaaallly hoping for a mythic element to The Village, Shyamalan surely felt some kind of obligation to create something fantastical and wonderous to make up for it. Many thought that he had succeeded because they were ready to plunge themselves headfirst into his fantasy world. The world that Lady In The Water introduced was vast, colorful, and full of scary evil demons. It’s everything you once loved about Shyamalan and more!
What hating it says about you: You’re a very trusting soul who just wants to be loved. Sure The Village wasn’t what you were expecting, but that’s just Shyamalan’s personality! Look, he came back with a true fantasy movie because he knew that it was just what you wanted! How sweet, he’s even got a supporting role as a…writer who is destined to change the world. Okay, maybe he’s a little narcissistic for your taste, but that’s no reason to jump off of the wagon completely…
Why people love it: Just out of curiosity, do moviegoers tend to pay money to see people die in a myriad of gruesome ways? Do people eat more popcorn when they’re watching someone being tortured? Will the thought of teenagers competing in a fight to death put butts in seats? Absolutely it will. We saw a riding lawnmower on a direct path to a human head in the trailer and we want to see that baby go all the way. If it was good enough for the Romans it’s good enough for us right? Nothing bad ever happened to the Romans, right?
What hating it says about you: The Happening pissed off exactly two sets of people. The Shyamalan fans that have always respected the director for being scary without being gory, and the people that walked into the film expecting the twist to be something other than trees. If you walked out of The Happening with hate in your heart, it means that you were either hoping for a return to true Shyamalan form (so you’re an optimist!) or you just really hate yourself (so you’re a masochist).
Why people love it: Clips of the admittedly stunning action sequences can be played during music videos, parties and high school assemblies with little to no worry about ruining the storyline for anyone. In that way, it is the perfect non-movie to not pay attention to while doing something else.
What hating it says about you: You have two eyes, two ears, a pulse and depressing space in your wallet where your $12.50 used to be. You might have been a fan of the excellent Nickelodeon TV show, or you may have been new to the party – but either way – The Last Airbender was the final (f***ing) straw for many fans of M. Night. If there were any stragglers left clinging to the back of the NightWagon, their fingers have now been frostbitten off and their bodies have tumbled into the road.
Disclaimer: Of course, this is just a hypothesis. We understand that taste varies and movie quality is completely subjective. This is being published purely for the sake of fun and is not intended to be an actual personality test. Obviously.
What do you think? Are you too emotionally scarred to give After Earth a chance? Are you a pessimist that is expecting After Earth to be Will Smith’s first flop since Wild Wild West? Are you an optimist that is hoping for a graceful rise from the ashes for Shyamalan?