Have Audiences Had Enough of M. Night?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
At screenings of "The Expendables" and "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World," the films were preceded by a trailer for a new release called "Devil" (opening September 17), and the response from the audience gave me no amount of delight.
The trailer for "Devil" starts off intriguingly with disorienting upside down shots of city skylines. We then see a group of people trapped in an elevator. The lights go out and someone is attacked but no one knows who or what may have attacked her. The audience seemed into the trailer so far. Then a little more than halfway through there's a title stating: "From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan..." and suddenly the audience turned on the film. The crowd gave a unanimous groan of disapproval and irreverent roar of laughter. Apparently M. Night can no longer pull the wool over their eyes. After the maddening and disappointing string of "The Last Airbender," "The Happening," "Lady in the Water," and "The Village, director Shyamalan seems to have worn out his welcome. The the one-time box office darling (for films such as "The Sixth Sense") now seems to be viewed as a joke. I was pleased to see that audiences may not be as dumb as the studios think (even the ones at "The Expendables").
But Shymalan is not the director of "Devil." He is the writer and producer. So I feel bad for director Drew Dowdle. His film is being roundly mocked (especially by the "Scott Pilgrim" crowd that my friend at The Sobering Conclusion said were merciless in their disapproval) not because of anything he's done but rather because of Shymalan's name on the film. Dowdle had previously written "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" which had a decent response from horror fans. So the poor guy may not have a chance to show whether he has talent or not if people stay away from "Devil" because of Shymalan's name. I guess we'll have to wait till September to see what happens with "Devil" and how audiences respond at the box office.
But I have to say that I was barely able to contain my pleasure at the audience response to Shymalan's name. He's been like the Emperor's new clothes for years and I'm enjoying seeing him taken down a few pegs for his pretentiousness as people realize that maybe he's not as talented as they may have thought. The ridicule he received was a delight and well deserved. I can't remember the last time watching a trailer in the theater was so fun.