I must say right off the bat that I am a fan of M. Night. I get his stuff. I got what he was trying to say in all his films. Is he the best film maker on the planet? No. Is he the best storyteller in film? I would have to say yes. Can even the greatest of storytellers screw up? ABSOLUTELY. I started my preparation for The Happening on Thurdsay with a marathon of his films.
The Sixth Sense: A landmark in film history and probably the one of the greatest impacts made by a writer-director ever. In one swoop he made us believe in the supernatural, and by of all ways lying to us from the very beginning. Yes all fictional films are lies essentially, but he totally caught the public off guard by not giving us the entire truth and it worked.
Unbreakable: The superhero movie to end all superhero movies. I truly believe this is the greatest superhero movie ever made. Without it you don’t have any other superhero movie out right now because he was able to make it all real. Yea those other movies would have still come out, but they would have been cartoon/comicbook-ish. He made the audience believe that we all have it in ourselves. That even the one that feels weakest amongst us can possess something incredible.
Signs: A science fiction film that doesn’t seem like a science fiction film. Here he creates one of our biggest fears on a mass scale but made it feel incredibly personal. Most of the movie takes place in one location and with one family yet it feels like we are going through it as well. He makes us believe that even in our worst nightmares there is something bigger that is protecting us, something supernatural.
The Village: The movie that makes us question it all. Most people walked out questioning M. Nights abilities and somehow I think that is what he wanted. The core of the movie is questioning authority and what we are presented with. Just because someone shows us something, or tells us something that doesn’t make it right for us, and we have to decide on our own if we want to believe. Yes, we wanted more from the love story, but it wasn’t about the love story. The love is what drives the character to be an individual with her own belief system.
Lady In The Water: This was M. Night doing what he wanted and what he believed in because he could. While it’s not his strongest film it certainly is one of his best told. It is a fairly tale for adults as he stated several times and advertised. Its for the child in us that wants to believe there is a role for each of us in this world. It has one of the most personal moments of all his films with Paul Giamatti talking to his family.
This brings us to The Happening, a movie that I think he wanted to get out there to deliver a message he really believes in: We are destroying our planet and it will come back to bite us in the arse. Unfortunately he doesn’t make me believe at any point that we have caused any problems. The world looks green and lush. The story has no evidence to back its claims. He tries to put fear in to us by using a grotesque form of revenge using self induced suicide caused by plants, but it becomes laughable. The scene with the tigers alone ruined the whole idea for me. It looked terrible whenever someone tried something unusual to kill themselves. He also should have stuck to the same formula that worked in Signs, large scale event on an extremely small and intimate level. The characters were very weak and poorly acted with the exception of John Leguizamo. He actually acted very well and made me wish his character was the lead. Most other characters were laughable and outrageous. The movie peaked when he had to leave. Mark Walhberg played a cornball and it upset me that a teacher was acting like he was slow. I have to say M. Night dropped the ball here on a great idea. I’m glad he is moving on to a kids movie because he needs to step away from his own work and regroup. Don’t run to the movies for this see The Incredible Hulk instead even though that is flawed as well. More on a Hulk Vs. The Incredible Hulk comparison in another blog.