Thumbing his nose at all those who argue that he’s rapidly devolving into a caricature of himself, mega-talented-but-clinically-predictable auteur M. Night Shyamalan just announced that, critics be damned, he’s going to keep making twisty thrillers! His next one (due to be released in June 2008) is set up at a new studio, Fox. And guess what? It’s a spine tingler! About “a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity!” (Riiiiight.) With a big, as-yet-undecided male star in the lead! (Quick aside: Is anybody else troubled by the fact that MNS doesn’t seem to have much of a place for women in his movies?) With a thrillerific title, The Happening! And it’s going to be rated R!
Oooh, now this is interesting. Though I’m betting that MNS would be loathe to admit outright that anything’s amiss in his work — that almost nobody embraced last summer’s Lady in the Water was, I’m sure, our mistake — he will be changing things up a bit, by going more frank and adult. Certainly, that’s one way to halt the repetition that has watered down the spooky genre he perfected in 1999’s Oscar-nominated The Sixth Sense. But is he just putting a Band-Aid on a sucking wound here? Will he do more damage to the “M. Night Shyamalan” brand by making a movie that the under-17 crowd won’t be allowed to watch? Has his refusal to alter his formula alienated audiences so much that he can never get them back? Will you go see this film?