It’s the Booze Talkin’, Should We Give M. Night Another Shot?

Last Updated on July 22, 2021

I remember spending some time in the theatres back when they were promoting the feature film from John Erick Dowdle, DEVIL. All was well and good until the name M. Night Shyamalan came up and the audience quickly turned on the film. It was pretty ugly, but not terribly surprising. After all, this was only a few months after the less-than-stellar reaction to THE LAST AIRBENDER. And over the years, Shyamalan had lost a whole heaping of good word from moviegoers thanks to 2008’s THE HAPPENING, 2006’s LADY IN THE WATER and 2004’s THE VILLAGE. Coming off a pretty strong start with THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE, it was hard to imagine how quickly one-time fans turned on the filmmaker.

With the 2013 release of the terrible AFTER EARTH, it would have been very easy to simply dismiss Shyamalan for good, and many probably have. Then came 2015. With the critically acclaimed series Wayward Pines and the upcoming feature film THE VISIT, can it be we have been too critical of M. Night? Perhaps after facing the wrath of audiences, he has learned to scale back on budget and ego and create something that will actually entertain. While I’ve yet to take in Wayward Pines, I will say that THE VISIT is not a bad flick. In fact, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the crazy grandparents horror feature is a refreshing change of pace for the all too serious minded filmmaker.

Personally I’ve always been in the middle with M. Night Shyamalan and his adoration for twist endings. Being in the minority, THE SIXTH SENSE didn’t blow me away, but honestly I was never fully turned off by the man. Sure, he sounded a bit ridiculous when he would point the finger at everybody else for his failures, but hey, you can’t blame the guy for trying. So he was never so far gone for me that I would downright refuse to see one of his movies. However, for many an audience, especially those taken in by UNBREAKABLE and THE SIXTH SENSE, it must have felt as though all the promise was merely a facade. But there are fans of his that have remained faithful. Those that are convinced he would return to the promise of his early career. Are they correct?

One of my problems with Shyamalan’s films, aside from the forced twists, was the ultra serious nature of his work. Every single character was so devoid of humor and fun, and they all seemed to constantly whisper their dialogue as if what they were saying had been sacred to everybody that was able to hear them. It was an annoying trait that particularly drove me crazy in SIGNS and especially THE HAPPENING. With his latest projects it feels as though he is allowing himself to take a few chances and be a little ridiculous. And more importantly, laugh. Hell, that last trailer with a ferociously excitable woman screeching “Yahtzee” is one of the most riotous moments I’ve seen in awhile. And yes, it is seemingly meant to be.

For many of the greatest horror filmmakers, their best work is when they had a limited budget. John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George Romero were able to create some of their most frightening tales thanks to limited funds and a love for genre. Perhaps with Shyamalan returning to a more grassroots approach, he too can bring something fresh to his own style of filmmaking. Working with Blumhouse Productions could be a good partnership that can give the writer/director something original to say. Judging from his latest projects, it may be possible that he still has something special to offer.

Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but is it time to give M. Night Shyamalan another shot? I am fully aware that many of his films are downright laughable in their attempts to generate thrills and excitement. Yet in 2015 he has managed to make a strange and entertaining low budget chiller as well as a oddball series that many seem to hold in high regard. I’m not saying that we should forget about all the epic madness that has earned him some serious doubt from moviegoers. Still, he clearly has respect from many in Hollywood and has managed to gather a pretty impressive cast with his latest endeavors. It will be interesting to see how audiences respond to THE VISIT, and if the film happens to do well, will we be seeing a return to form for M. Night? With smaller budgets and maybe a little more humor, I’m curious to see if he can stage a comeback.

Source: AITH

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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.