I love M. Night Shyamalan. His movies have brought me so much joy because of how bad they are. I can still quote The Happening like it just released yesterday.
And then Split released...and it was getting great reviews.
Did...did..did Shyamalan make a good movie?
I guess it’s not completely fair to ask that question. I mean, before this whole love-to-hate thing, Shyamalan did direct some good movies - two. He made two good movies. (Three, if you count Stuart Little, which he wrote. Yes, he wrote that. I’m no kidding.)
When The Sixth Sense released, it opened to critical acclaim and commercial success. Everyone loved the plot twist and until now, I still see people quoting Haley Joe Osment from time to time. It gave Shyamalan a big reputation - this director was a director to watch.
His two movies that came after that were a mixed bag. Some people liked Unbreakable, others thought it had a weak ending. (Like me.) Signs was much more well-received, with Newsweek even calling M. Night “the next Steven Spielberg.”
And then The Village happened.
I’m sorry to anyone who likes this movie, but this movie was bad. That plot twist was incredibly cringe-inducing, not to mention entirely predictable. But directors could fall down every now and then, right? I mean, look at Tim Burton! Surely Shyamalan could make up for it in his next movie?
Two movies later, The Happening happened.
The Happening has a cult following because of how bad it is. Seriously, none of the characters here act like real people, the close ups are so incredibly close it’s uncomfortable, and the dialogue...well, do I even have to say anything about the dialogue?
I would say The Happening was Shyamalan’s biggest low...but I can’t. Because of his next movie.
Oh yes. Everybody hated this movie. Fans of the show hated this movie. Casual moviegoers hated this movie. And can you blame them? Sure, it gave us Seychelle Gabriel, the voice of Asami in the sequels series, the Legend of Korra, but...did this movie warrant existing?
I mean, what can I say for a movie adaptation that can’t even get the pronunciation of the characters’ names right?
It looked like there was no hope for Shyamalan. And this continued on for a while. Devil was devilishly bad, After Earth was a snoozefest, and The Visit...well, I guess The Visit did okay. It works better because the plot twist was played more as a joke.
It seemed like this would go on for a while...until now.
Split comes out tonight, and all the early reviews are saying Split is a great movie. A lot of them are praising the directing and performances, particularly James McAvoy.
And, honestly? Even the trailer kind of interested me.
So, Shyamalan, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Split will be good. Maybe you’ll finally live on that Newsweek title.
And if not, well, just know we love your bad movies all the same.