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The International Writers Magazine
: Film & Opinion

M. Night Shyamalan
Andrew Stuart

I hate critics. It’s not so much that I hate people criticizing my work as it is that I despise being criticized by someone unqualified to do so. For example, there’s a certain morbidly obese redhead living in a basement who is a shining example of what I’m talking about. People who aren’t in the same league as you creatively shouldn’t bother criticizing your work, It doesn’t mean anything coming from someone who hasn’t worked as hard, put up with as much bullshit as you have.

M.Night Shyamalan

This, I believe very strongly.
I’m a screenwriter and filmmaker and in all likelihood, you will never hear of me. But, I have worked hard, I write well, and I’ve put up with my fair share of bullshit, if there is one thing I know, its movies. And that is why I can write this article.

Recently, a co-worker told me that he loved Shyamalan’s films because he was a Hitchcock fan, and M. Night’s films really "keep the tradition alive". After I picked up my eyeballs off the floor and placed them firmly back inside their sockets, I tried to argue that Shyamalan’s films are cheap and pathetic attempts to homage some of Hitchcock’s most basic principles. For instance, in SIGNS, he really goes for the ‘What you don’t see is scarier’ idea. Hitchcock pulled this off by writing intense and smart scripts, In SIGNS the effect is tiresome, annoying and most importantly not scary (I find this to be a common thread in all of Shyamalan’s films). But no matter how much I tried to debate this with him, he would have none of it.

I had to accept the fact that this is the world we live in now. It’s a world where "Everybody Loves Raymond" is a hit sit-com, Fred Durst is a rock star, and M. Night Shyamalan is the "next Spielberg" as TIME magazine once headlined. At the risk of sounding vague, I would like now to examine some of Shyamalan’s films.

Bruce and Haley
Is it just me or does this film have no story? The kid sees ghosts, he helps some random dead girl who’s mother was poisoning her. Oh, and Bruce Willis is dead. Wow. Other than that, what else is it about? Amazingly this film pulled in nearly three hundred million dollars domestically, and even more amazing still, it is M. Night Shyamalan’s best film. I personally believe that when he realized the "twist" in the film was such a huge hit he made sure that the rest of his movies followed suit. If you look into his past films, they have nothing to do with the supernatural. His first film, PRAYING WITH ANGER is the story of a young Indian man who comes to America. Afterwards, Mr. Shyamalan was apparently out of work for six years before writing WIDE AWAKE, a story about a young boy looking for God. Suspiciously, neither of these stories involves ghosts or water-allergic aliens.
What an Unbelievable piece of crap. Bruce Willis never got sick, and has never been hurt, except for that one time he nearly drowned. He’s Unbreakable. But why? I swear on my mother’s soul, that’s the fucking plot. When I first saw the film, one thing I did like was the scene with Bruce Willis’ son pointing the gun at him. I thought that was funny until I found out that the scene was intended to be dramatic. The ending is absurd. The freeze-framing with character epilogues at the end was ridiculous and lazy, and the writing was almost as insipid as SIGNS…almost. One thing that I found interesting about UNBREAKABLE was the fact that Shyamalan sacrifices the realism and integrity of his character "Elijah Price" in exchange for his stupid twist ending. Think about this, M. Night Shyamalan actually wants us to believe that Samuel L. Jackson’s character killed hundreds of people just to make sure he’s an asshole. One thing that blows my mind about this film is that there are quite a few number of people who when describing UNBREAKABLE use words such as "Brilliant" and "Amazing". One of these people happens to be Harry Knowles. Just thought I’d mention that.
My favorite Shyamalan film, by far the most ridiculous piece of garbage he’s ever written, Now, I’m going to keep this short, because when I talk about SIGNS too much I start to get very agitated and usually end up drinking myself to sleep, mumbling like a hobo. First off, we have the pastor who has lost faith because his wife died. This has been done before, and it’s always such a silly concept. Just because your wife dies you do not usually renounce your faith in God, unless she was tortured to death by Richard Simmons or something, but otherwise, what kind of immature baby would you have to be in order to lose faith over the death of a loved one? Next, aliens start fucking with the whole family, and then they figure out that these aliens, believe it or not, can’t deal with water. It’s just too goddamn much for them. They landed on a planet that is three quarters water, and even though they have are able to build spaceships, they are apparently unable to make a suit that would be waterproof. Water. Fucking water. The most abundant and accessible resource on the entire planet, it shoots out of hoses in people’s front yards, not to mention our genitalia. But Mr. Shyamalan honestly thought people would go for that. And the sad part is that mostly, they did.

But that’s the problem. When it’s this easy, why should he make himself work a little harder to make a good story? The money keeps rolling in, the green lights will keep flashing, and Harry Knowles’ thighs will keep rubbing together. The guy isn’t ruining film or anything like that, but for those of you out there who are writers or filmmakers, I think you should be angry that M. Night Shyamalan is cooking his Tandoori Chicken with an oven fueled by 100 dollar bills, while you struggle to pay your bills.
I know, I know, all this bitterness. But what does it matter? Who am I? You’ll probably never hear of me again, but you can be damn sure you’ll be hearing more of M. Night Shyamalan.
© Andrew Stuart May 2004

*Hate to point this out Stu but The Village is coming to a cinema complex near you July 30th 2004
- Ed

Why are the creatures of the forest so angry?

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