Way back in 1999 a quiet, eerie little movie -albeit one that featured a very big name actor- was released and became a huge hit. It was on everyone’s mind and made a star of its writer/director…
The writer/director of The Sixth Sense is, of course, M. Night Shyamalan and his follow-up film, Unbreakable, is considered by many another great work. When his follow up to that, the film Signs, was about to be released in 2002, Newsweek featured the following article concerning the very hot writer/director…
Most of you know the rest of the story.
While Signs has its fans, almost everyone agrees the alien invasion film featured some really silly elements. The biggest one being: How do technologically advanced aliens choose to invade a planet which is filled with water, something which is highly poisonous to them?!
Unfortunately, that story -let’s be kind here- peculiarity turned out to be a sign of bad things to come. Mr. Shyamalan was pegged as the writer/director whose films had to have a shocking end-twist but this reputation may have become more a burden to him than he would admit and his follow-ups to Signs proved a case of diminishing returns.
In short order he re;eased The Village (2004) and Lady in the Water (2006). In 2008 he reached one of several creative nadir’s with the ridiculous The Happening, which featured this much yucked about scene…
By this time, audiences had turned on the writer/director and his reputation, so sterling at the time of that Newsweek article, was in the gutter. Fans of The Last Airbender animated series were outraged by the live action movie version he wrote and directed and which was released in 2010.
By then, Mr. Shyamalan’s reputation was so damaged that the 2013 film After Earth made it a point to avoid mentioning the writer/director’s role in the film.
Things, however, started to work for Mr. Shyamalan after that point. The movie Devil, which he wrote and produced but did not direct, was a cult hit. The TV show Wayward Pines, which he directed the first episode and executive produced, was also a modest success, at least for its first season.
Was a come-back in the works?
Signs (pun intended?!) point to that possibility as Mr. Shyamalan’s latest writing/directing feature, Split, is getting very good early word and the studios behind it appear bullish on it…
The reason I point all this out is because as good as the film’s early reviews are, Mr. Shyamalan’s reputation once again, to me, threatens this movie’s release as it has already been revealed that the film features, you guessed it, a final act “twist”.
Considering we’re dealing with a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three young women, one instantly thinks: Are the young women he kidnaps part of his psychosis? Do they exist? Or perhaps one of the young women is the psychotic one and everyone around her is a delusion?
I don’t know but if anything, this shows the dangers of succeeding too well with something and then riding that particular success perhaps more than one should.
Will this film give Mr. Shyamalan a much needed boost after years of at best indifference and at worst ridicule?
We’ll have to wait and see.