Ah, how the critics love to take swings at M. Night Shyamalan, once the horror industry’s golden boy and Disney’s next best hope for salvation.
Even regular Joes who have now become armchair movie critics via the internet have joined in to fray to make sure their collective boot lands solidly in M. Night’s groin.
But is all this criticism really deserved?
M. Night Shyamalan is one of our best horror directors and creators, one who has continually taken risks to break new cinematic ground, even when it might threaten his own hind-end.
As it is customary for our culture to build up our heroes simply to knock them down, on closer examination much of the time it’s undeserved. In the case of M. Night Shyamalan, I believe it isn’t.
SIXTH SENSE was, for me, one of the most cleverly written and executed thrillers I can remember in a very long time. SIGNS may not have been a masterpiece, but it certainly was spooky and different. LADY IN THE WATER was a risky endeavor, and I never really got it, but THE VILLAGE was well written and directed (with a fantastic score) and their performances were exemplary. UNBREAKABLE was a respectably creepy and entertaining film. [I have not seen AFTER EARTH yet, but will do so soon.]
Like M. Night Shyamalan, I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs of Chester County, and love the way he uses that area’s creepy locations, iconography and cultural history in almost all of his films. As he still lives and makes movies just outside of Philadelphia very close to where I spent much of my youth is a testament to his love of roots and family, and his love of Pennsylvania.
His films have strongly influenced me as both a writer and filmmaker, and his inspiration is evident on my own upcoming film, ABANDONED DEAD.
Many think that M. Night Shyamalan’s latest outing, the microbudgeted “SUNDOWNING,” is his final slouch toward oblivion – a final opus for a man past his prime and now shambling off into the sundown of his career – causing the masses to ask the proverbial question ‘Is M. Night Shyamalan REALLY Dead?’
I wouldn’t bet on it.
Announcements recently made from the M. Night Shyamalan camp is that Bruce Willis has been confirmed for M. Night Shyamalan’s next big budget picture to be titled LABOR OF LOVE, and the new upcoming 10-part Thriller TV series on Fox UK, WAYWARD PINES will be out in 2015 in both the US and the UK.
Don’t count M. Night Shyamalan out – I believe the best is still yet to come.
Mark W. Curran – August 2014
Los Angeles, CA.