Jonathan Poritsky

The Shyamalan Groan

Last night, at a mid­night screen­ing of Inception in NYC, the new trailer for Devil came up. The audi­ence, obvi­ously the tar­get demo­graphic, was wrapped up in it, very excited at the prospect of an enclosed hor­ror film (strangers stuck in an ele­va­tor with some sort of super­nat­ural ele­ment). That is, until the fol­low­ing title card came up: From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan. The house erupted into a load moan, very close to a boo. Then they all laughed off their unan­i­mous dis­dain. Then they applauded once the trailer wrapped.

Had they paid bet­ter atten­tion, they would see that M. Night penned the story, not even the script, while direct­ing cred­its go to Quarantine broth­ers John Erick and Drew Dowdle. It is clear that peo­ple are fed up with Shyamalan, espe­cially after the unfor­giv­able The Last Airbender, how­ever I think we can learn a lot about this reaction.

First off, the whole celebrity attach­ment thing is get­ting to be a bit much, espe­cially when even the press isn’t always tak­ing the time to look at who directed a film. I saw a great deal of mis­re­portage — no, not on blogs — about Robert Rodriguez direct­ing Predators, which is entirely untrue. Nimród Antal worked closely with Rodriguez to be sure, but the buck ulti­mately stops with the director.

Of course, Rodriguez is a name you want attached to a film like that. Viewers are clearly over M. Night’s trick­ery, but peo­ple should remem­ber his begin­nings. Shyamalan is a man of many tal­ents who, most would argue, has been cor­rupted by his fame. He started as a writer and is an extremely gifted sto­ry­teller, so I think the move to bring­ing his story to another direc­tor is per­fect. Perhaps we will even see him move away from the cam­era on more projects so he can slowly win back the hearts and minds of the hor­ror and thriller fans he has (not really) betrayed.

That being said, an entire film that takes place in an ele­va­tor is very easy to screw up. So we’ll just have to wait and see. The trailer itself looks pretty wonderful.

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