Why do people hate M. Night Shyamalan?

The Sixth Sense

Year: 1999
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all started for M. Night Shyamalan and as far as I am concerned it was where everything went wrong for him. He burst onto the scene with this fantastic thriller that had a twist that really shocked everyone. That shock was his undoing though as it spawned certain expectations the director would never fulfill in the future. This was an incredibly successful movie but each succeeding film has been less profitable and less of a success with the audience. I don’t think it is Shyamalan’s fault and in fact like him quite a lot as a director.

I think that the shocker at the end of this movie gave people the idea that every film he made would feature something on par, and the studios tend to market Shyamalan movies like that. More often than not this is not what Shyamalan movies are meant to be like. His movies are more about human nature than anything else but people expect something much different. The expectations generated from this first film coupled with how the films are marketed make people really grow to hate Shyamalan. For more on why people hate M. Night Shyamalan see these reviews of his other works: The Happening, Lady in the Wateror Devil.

I have often written about how occasionally two movies of similar premise come out at the exact same time. To name a couple of examples: Dante’s Peak and Volcano, Armageddon and Deep Impact, A Bug’s Life and Antzthis list can go on and on. Point being, when this anomaly happens I only ever watch one of the films. It just so happens that The Sixth Sense came out at the same time as another movie that was very similar, Stir of Echoes.  While I was aware of The Sixth Sense I had no interest in seeing it after watching Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon. Knowing I didn’t intend to see it one of my friends who was, like everybody, awed by the film excitedly told me the big shocker at the end. I will discuss more about the similarities between these two movies when we get to the one I liked more.

So this movie never got to knock my socks off with the big surprise. I had known what would happen long before ever actually sitting down to see it and the movie was never one I really cared for. That being said, I think it has everything to do with why I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. By the time his next film Unbreakable came out I had not had my expectations raised to unreasonable levels. I really enjoyed the movie that many found disappointing and continued to enjoy his movies as everyone else finds them flawed. I think it’s because I don’t expect the big shocker, I sit back and enjoy his movies for what they are.

This movie is actually one of my least favorite Shyamalan movies. I think Bruce Willis is great and Haley Joel Osment was outstanding but the movie just never really interested me much. There was the one scene with the kid who had committed suicide and that bothered me as a teen. I had a friend once who had ended his own life in much the same fashion seen in the film and it was just too soon for me. Put that together with the fact that I knew what the big shocker was and this whole film was lost on me. The thing about a big shocker is it only really gets you once and afterwards the lack of surprise equals a lack of excitement. I have found so many Shyamalan movies to be the type I love to watch multiple times, specifically The Village, which is my favorite of his films.

Haley Joel Osment was such a renowned child actor when I was young but he really grew up to be an unfortunate looking adult. All the youthful cuteness that he has in this movie faded away with puberty and today he is doing things like Tusk. There are plenty who would suggest that isn’t pathetic but I found that movie to be so ridiculous. As great as Osment was in this movie he was arguably even better in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Under the direction of the child whisperer Steven Speilberg, Osment gave such an eerie performance you might believe the kid actually was a robot. It’s a shame he couldn’t carry that talent into adulthood.

Despite the lack of positive reviews M. Night Shyamalan continues to make films and in fact his newest one Split looks really cool. Although to be fair, all his movie look really cool. I hope that this movie turns out to be as devious as it looks and is not simply the trick of misguided marketing. Check out the trailer below to see what he has coming up. Otherwise I have never vouched for this movie and won’t start now. If you haven’t seen it you are in the minority because it was that big of a film. However, I do not personally think it is worth your time if you have seen it. If you haven’t and somehow manage to not know the big shocker at the end then by all means seek this out and let it blow your mind.

NEXT MOVIE: Slackers (2002)

Lady in the Water

Year: 2006
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

Of all M. Night Shyamalan’s movies this one seems to be the most hated and that is totally understandable.  I think Shyamalan gets a bad rap because everybody goes in expecting something different and that isn’t his fault at all.  It’s the studios fault for how they market his movies, and a lot of it has to do with The Sixth Sense because everybody is looking for that same kind of shocker at the end.  This is the wrong way to enter his movies though.  His films are about human nature more than anything else, set on a strange platform that gives people the wrong impression.  This movie is about a fairy tale come to life, but it isn’t really about that fairy tale at all.  This movie is about loss and purpose.  It’s about a man lost in the world with nothing left but the next day and the jobs to keep him busy.  He is a man in secret pain and going forward only because he doesn’t know what else to do. The lady in the water is simply someone who makes him realize he still matters and gives him a place in the world again.

When I saw this movie for the first time I was in a difficult place in life.  I felt lost and without purpose myself and when I saw this movie it brought me to tears and understanding.  In the strangest way it gave me hope and the strength to keep going.  In some certain ways I am still here today because this movie gave me a reason to think that there was still purpose in life.  I don’t mean that anything about the Narf story or any of the fairy tale stuff in the movie moved me but this show of raw emotion did.  I felt this characters pain and related to it, seeing him find his own purpose in life was so motivating for me and did something to me that I can’t quite put into words.

This movie was nominated for multiple Razzie awards and actually won two.  Razzie Awards of course being the awards given to the worst movies of the year and again, I think it is understandable why it was nominated and even won.  Looking at this movie on the surface it does come across as really stupid.  You have to look past the surface in Shyamalan movies though, and nobody ever wants to do that.  Nobody wants to see the meaning within his movies they only want to “see dead people.” Shyamalan instantly became on of the biggest names in the business after he burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense.  It was a great starting point for his career but it really just set the bar too high for his viewers.  There is an audience out there for this guys movies, I naturally include myself in it, but they aren’t the ones who he needs to impress to continue being successful.  The mass movie audience wants another shocker like the one they saw at the end of his first movie.  Those shockers haven’t been there because his movies aren’t there to shock, they are there to showcase the qualities that make us human.  Love and bravery(The Village), faith and forgiveness (Signs), good vs. evil (Unbreakable), or as we see in this movie loss and purpose in life.  If you would like to read our review of The Happening just click hereThe Happening seemed to be nearly as hated as this movie but not quite.  It was enough to make the studio crack down on Shyamalan though as his next film, Devil, was made by a different director.  I did not see The Last Airbender but refuse to take anybody else’s word for it.  I do not know any other Shyamalan fans and I cannot trust their opinions without seeing for myself.  This summer he has a new movie coming out that I am really looking forward to.  After Earth features Will Smith and his son Jaden as a father son duo trying to survive on our planet that is now uninhabited by human and very dangerous. Seems like a much bigger budget movie than he usually does and I am excited by those possibilities.  No doubt most of the people that watch it will probably hate it but I insist you will have to look deeper to get the real meaning of the film. M. Night Shyamalan, if you are out there, don’t listen to the haters man.  I get what you do and appreciate all the films you make. The Village is one of my favorites and I really feel like this movie had a significant impact on my life.

I think Paul Giamatti is an incredible actor who can display a wide range of emotions. His performance in this movie was one I have always related to.  He is a character in secret pain and no longer knows what his purpose in life is.  He does a great job at a job with no real significance.  It might be significant to the people he helps but as he says in the film anybody can do the job he is doing.  He may be exceptional at it but there is nothing exceptional about the job or the place he has found himself in life.  He needs something he just doesn’t know what.  He needs a purpose, he needs to do something to prove to himself that he still matters.  It’s why he is so invested in this silly story as it unfolds, it has given him purpose and made him special. Something about seeing this man find his purpose and let go of the pain that has plagued him did something to me the first time I saw it, and it has always given this hated movie so much significance to me personally.

I am a big fan of Bryce Dallas Howard and think she is a terrific actress. I don’t think this was her best role but I think she did really well with it.  There is this quality about her performance as Story that reminds me so much of Edward Scissorhands.  I think that is appropriate as there are certain similarities to the two characters.  They are both beings in the human world for the first time and experiencing for the first time all the little things we take for granted.  She has such an emotionless expression all throughout the film too that only adds to that quality.

Shyamalan inserts himself into all his films but in this film we see him take on the largest role to date.  I didn’t think it was that bad but as people love to hate this guy it only gave them an open ended opportunity to put him down.  He won the Razzie Award for worst supporting actor and I really don’t think it was appropriate.  Yeah I can see that he isn’t a professional actor in his performance but I didn’t think he was bad enough to warrant such an award.  I think the role he plays in the story is an interesting one.  He doesn’t write a book that will influence the world simply one that will influence one specific person who will grow to change the world.  I like that idea and admittedly the idea alone made me like his character more.

I consider all criticism of this film to be truthful and honest but I just happen to see it differently.  I have explained why and also understand I am in the minority when it comes to Shyamalan films.  I think this movie was worth my time but don’t really know that I can honestly say it is worth yours. I have never met another person who enjoyed this movie and I would never recommend it to anyone simply because I don’t expect them to like it as I did.  If anybody out there had a reaction to this film similar to mine I would be really interested to hear your opinion on it.  I loved the movie, and it would be nice to know I am not the only one that did.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I wonder if anyone will even read this considering we are the only ones left on I the planet that actually like Shyamalan. I don’t know what’s right about us (see what I did there?) but we think he is really intelligent in the stories that he tells. I feel like there are very little original stories out there anymore. I feel like he does that. I think that most of his movies have been incredibly original and I appreciate that. This one is very original. It’s about a Lady who lives in the water and she is trying to get back to her world. I think it is interesting and a break from reality.

ladyinthewater

This poster is beautiful. There are so many things going on in the background. In the textures you can see shapes and forms of other things from the story. I love the hidden imagery. On top of that and more importantly to me, the typography is truly terrific. The font choice has serifs that almost flow like water. The W fits in very snugly against the L and “in the” is lightly added. I really love the coloring as well. It makes it all the more fairy-tale like and intriguing.

NEXT MOVIE: The Ladykillers (2004)

The Happening

Year: 2008
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is more or less M. Night Shyamalan’s movie about the environmental problems our planet faces.  A message about the damage we are doing to this world and the danger we would be in if it were able to fight back.  This movie received a very critical response from fans and critics alike but I enjoyed it; as I enjoy most of Shyamalan’s films.  People hated this movie, but if we are being honest here, people have progressively hated nearly everything he has made since The Sixth Sense blew everybody away and became such a big hit.  I think because of the shocker that The Sixth Sense offered at the end people have always expected too much from him.  Not only that, but the advertising for all of his films has always been misleading in order to get people into the theater.  They intentionally lead the viewers to believe that his films will offer similar shockers and thrills but he hasn’t made a movie with quite the same bang to it at the end.  His movies are usually a metaphor for something else and people don’t understand that.

I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan and ironically it has nothing to do with his first film.  I wasn’t always the biggest fan of The Sixth Sense. I chose to watch Kevin Bacon’s similar Stir of Echoes that year and enjoyed it quite a bit.  By the time I got around to seeing The Sixth Sense the ending had already been spoiled for me and I thought it was too much like a movie I already liked.  What made me a fan of Shyamalan were all his films after.  I love Unbreakableit may have been slower but it was a good movie.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Signs because I thought it was too religious but that was what it was about.  The movie is more about Mel Gibson rediscovering his faith than it is about aliens, and I fell victim to the misleading advertising in that case. The Village is one of my all-time favorite movies; it is a great story about fear and love.  I may have been the only person but I loved Lady in the Water too, it really hit me hard in the theater and the story touched me on a personal level.  This film was admittedly not his best movie, but I like it nonetheless.  Like I said, people expect too much from Shyamalan.  The idea that plants could turn on humanity seemed so ridiculous to most of the people I knew at the time but I didn’t think it was that far-fetched. Yeah, it is unlikely to happen, but that is what makes watching movies great.  They allow us to see the things that are unlikely to happen in real life. I do not care what anybody else thinks, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a terrific filmmaker and I will always take the time to see and enjoy his movies.

At one point in the film they are running through a field and pass a sign advertising real estate development coming for the area.  On the sign you can plainly see the phrase “you deserve this.” It is meant to imply that as humans we are being too greedy in exploiting the Earth and destroying nature.  We deserve what is happening to us now as the plants have found a way to fight back. It’s very subtle and I’m sure it completely escaped the attention of the average viewer but it is those subtle things in Shyamalan movies that make them exceptional.  Shyamalan makes great movies but he attracts the wrong kind of viewer by and large with the studio advertising for the film.  With plenty of the wrong viewers sitting in the audience these kinds of subtle effects are missed while most of the audience is just waiting for the next person to kill themselves.  When you go to Shyamalan movies looking for shock and awe you walk away not only disappointed but missing out on the message of the movie all together.

I thought the acting was specifically bad in this movie.  I am no fan of the racist ex-con Mark Wahlberg but I will admit when he does a good job acting.  That isn’t called for after his performance in this movie though; he is as bad as he gets in this one.  I also thought Zooey Deschnal and John Leguizamo were bad in their roles.  None of the actors really seemed invested in the film or story.  It was cool to see Ferris Bueller’s Alan Ruck in a small role as the school principal. Shyamalan usually has a better cast on hand but maybe the casting in this film reflects his dwindling clout within the industry.  As I said earlier his films have been progressively hated and I have heard the studios are getting tired of it.  I am under the impression he was not allowed to direct what would have been his last film, Devil (2010).  He was credited with writing the movie, which I thought was really good and Shyamalan-like but the directing duties were given to someone else. I hope I am wrong about that however and we continue to see more movies from him in the future.

I do have to take a quick moment to give some credence to the critics of this film.  This movie absolutely does fall to pieces in the end, and the story is never really resolved.  I completely understand why so many people hated that and I don’t really like it myself but I have seen worse endings.  I liked that Shyamalan sort of left it open for speculation.  Was it a government accident and cover-up or did nature in fact turn violent against humanity? Of course he screwed it all up with the last shot of the film.  It really doesn’t make much sense for the scare to stop in one place just to start up somewhere else if nobody gets the message.  Are the plants compassionate? Is that it? Were they moved by the love between the two main characters? It doesn’t really make sense and I think that is pretty lame but I still enjoy the movie despite it.

In closing I will simply say that anybody you happen to ask will probably tell you that this was a really bad movie and not to waste your time on it.  I am telling you different though, this isn’t the greatest movie ever but it wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It does kind of fall to pieces in the ending but the movie as a whole makes up for it. I think it offers shocking images, an interesting story, and a compelling idea about our relationship to the planet.  This movie is worth your time if you can be patient enough to appreciate what it is saying.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan and I are the only ones on the planet that actually like M. Night Shalalalalalallalalala. I think all of his ideas are completely original and speak on a much larger level. This is one of those films that try and teach us that we need to start taking care of the planet or the planet is going to get back at us. I think he did it quite literally. The plant life literally starts attacking the humans. I can totally understand why people wouldn’t like this movie. I don’t think a lot of people have any faith in Shyamalan anymore and automatically go into it thinking this is going to be horrible.

I identify with this movie because it has to do with saving the Earth. I won’t preach here, but we have a serious problem on our hands with the planet, and we need to figure out a better plan and alternative.
There were three different posters for this movie and I think this one was the better one, but I still don’t really like it. I think that they could have come up with something a lot more interesting. This is pretty cliché for an apocalyptic themed film. This looks very similar to the design for The Walking Dead, the color filters are just different. The typography for the movie title is nice. I like a clean sans serif. But the placement of the just seems too easy and boring.

NEXT MOVIE: Happy Gilmore (1996)