Why am I beginning to feel like Charlie Brown again? Staring down Lucy as she winks, nods and says "Come on Chuck, just give the old ball a kick. I promise I won't move it this time." But you know she will. She always does. It's how this goes. But what I'm wondering is why Lucy is beginning to look a lot like M. Night Shyamalan. You know, the guy who wrote and directed a movie in which he played the writer that would save the world. You know, the one in which the film critic got ate by the CG wolf thingie. It was called Lady in the Water, and it was Shyamalan's ultimate misstep -- the moment at which he declared that Disney didn't understand his genius. And as it turned out, neither did anyone else.
But it wasn't his first misstep. Once you make a perfect film like The Sixth Sense, it's hard to follow up. No one proved that better than Shyamalan. His follow-up would be Unbreakable, a great film that ended 30 seconds too early. Trying to make a film that was just like a comic book, he ended it just like one -- with an anticlimactic crawl explaining what happens, rather than showing it to us. And while the ending didn't actually suck, it kind of sucked. Then Signs would be the movie where people would begin to get off the Shyamalan boat. Despite being a blockbuster and a finely crafted film, the writing left a lot to be desired and there were way too many plot holes for some. I remember it fondly as the movie that makes you think "Joaquin, there's aliens on the roof again. Get the hose."
The Village would be the first film for which he was openly slayed by the press. Possessing one of the most predictable twist endings of all time, and being entirely predicated upon that twist, the movie sent scores of people out of the theatres swearing and cursing up a storm. They felt gypped. And rightly so. Shyamalan had run his one trick pony into the ground, and it was time for something new. And that's when he moved on to Lady in the Water. And while I enjoyed that film, I couldn't help but simultaneously watch, jaw agape, at just how off-the-rails the man was going as an artist. He was throwing an on-screen tantrum, taking potshots at the one group of people he needed to ensure his legacy. And we butchered him. Mercilessly. I have to admit, I was kind. But even I had to take some shots at him for the sheer audacity of making a film about how much of a genius you are -- especially when the film itself isn't in any way genius.
So here I am. Staring down Lucy again. Shyamalan has a new film -- The Happening. It's another supernatural/science fiction thriller that will no doubt have a twist ending. Do you think I care? Do you think I'm gonna go?
Of course I am. Don't be ridiculous. Shyamalan is like that ex-girlfriend you can't help but drive over and see at two in the morning when she calls you crying and you end up sleeping with her anyway, despite the hour you spent mumbling in the car that you're not gonna do it this time. Because, you know, it might work this time. Really it might. God I hope it does. Otherwise I'm just gonna be writing this article again two years from now. You now, when he makes the sequel. What's Happening Now?