M. Night Shyamalan

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Ohhhhh, M. Night Shyamalan (born Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan). Once considered amongst the most promising directors in Hollywood, famous predominantly for his twist endings, in recent years seems to be rapidly falling to the same level as the likes of Uwe Boll and Seltzer & Friedberg -- if the critics are anything to go by.

Born in India, he was raised in Philadelphia, and most of his movies are set and filmed there. M. Night Shyamalan's first few feature films were Praying With Anger in 1992 and Wide Awake in 1998, both with heavy religious themes and were modestly received but not overtly successful.

He ended up writing a screenplay inspired by an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a Nickelodeon show. Shopping this script around, it became famous for a bidding war and being snatched up by a Disney representative for an obscene amount of money without consulting his executives. This movie became the surprise mega-hit The Sixth Sense (1999), which featured a well-planned Twist Ending that was so widely talked-about that everyone knows it now.

High hopes were pinned on the director. Unfortunately, according to popular opinion, the rest of his filmography is just one long decline.

His follow-up film, Unbreakable (2000), is often overlooked in discussions as it's not the mega-hit that his first film was, though it was still well-received. Although it likely started the "realistic" comic book films years before The Dark Knight, it was viewed as low-key and "normal", to the point that many people are unaware of him being the director. This film also had a Twist Ending, and may have started the pattern for his movies to follow, which ended up creating a very negative Hype Backlash with every movie to follow.

Signs (2002) is the first of his films to receive extensive mockery, centering around the now patented Twist Ending. Despite this, it was still very popular in cinemas and was his second-most-successful movie at the box-office. It was also the last of his films to not be universally savaged by critics; had he stopped there, he probably would've been looked upon as a skilled filmmaker whose fondness for a formula was simply a trademark or style that didn't stop him from delivering three good films.

Then there was The Village (2004). And Lady in the Water (2006). And The Happening (2008). The Village had a few defenders and was quite profitable, but was still destroyed by critics mainly due the ending being too much of a curveball. Lady in the Water broke from the Twist Ending formula (being based on a bedtime story for his children), but became the point where he officially changed from "failing director" to "laughingstock". Casting none other than himself as a visionary but unrecognized author who becomes a martyr and savior while including a Straw Critic being killed in the film did not help. The movie bombed at the box office. A subsequent "making-of" book, The Man Who Heard Voices, inadvertently gave the impression that he was an egomaniac who surrounded himself with sycophants, and was roundly mocked in the press. His next film, The Happening, was supposed to be his Win Back the Crowd movie, an R-rated horror about an apocalyptic event. It was well marketed, and more successful commercially, but soon became more famous as a So Bad It's Good movie than as a straight-up horror due to its plot being about evil plants.

His next film was The Last Airbender (2010), adapting the first season of [[Avatar: The Last Airbender]] (a show Shyamalan stated he was a great fan of) to the big screen. The previews to the movie caused some reservations (being live action, the stigma against Shyamalan on itself, and Race Lifting the main characters), but the trailers won over many of the skeptics. However, less than one week after the release of the film, it garnered a near-universal negative reaction from both fans and critics alike, currently holding at 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's his highest-grossing film since Signs, but still not a big success because of its huge budget and marketing costs.

Shyamalan still has an outstanding deal with Media Rights Capital to produce -- but not direct -- one film a year for the next three years. The first of these, The Night Chronicles: Devil, was released in September 2010. Trailers initially played up Shyamalan's involvement in the film, but due to negative reaction, this has reportedly been changed. His next film is a Will Smith vehicle called After Earth, implying that he's open to anything if it means a good paycheck.

There are people who still like Shyamalan. One such person is Jonas Kyratzes, of Commentarium fame. You can find his reasoning for this, and his thoughts on why Shyamalan is now hated, in his review of The Happening, here

There are those who wonder why Shyamalan has never made a sequel to Unbreakable, one of his more well-received hits; at the time, Shyamalan was insisting on his Auteur License to make only original works, not sequels. What Could Have Been...

M. Night Shyamalan provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Auteur License: The runaway success of The Sixth Sense granted him the ability to make his quirky films without hindrance until his second straight flop resulted in his license being revoked.
  • Color Motif: His films often use bright colors like red and yellow to emphasize the supernatural or otherwise scary or shocking elements in a scene. This is particularly noticeable in Unbreakable (which also uses the colors green and purple to isolate the characters played by Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Creator Cameo: Shyamalan is noteworthy for appearing in his own movies. With the exception of Lady In The Water, he tends to portray either villainous characters or characters who have a negative impact on the protagonist.
  • Dull Surprise: In most of his films the goal has been to make the characters low-key and avoid overacting at all costs. His last two films instead went with this trope.
  • I See Dead People: Trope title comes from a line from The Sixth Sense.
  • Lampshade Hanging: He lampshades his common theme of twist endings in Unbreakable, where the young Elijah is handed a comic book by his mother who says "I hear this one ends with a twist".
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: Manoj, your movies ARE this trope.
  • Meta Twist: And when they lack a twist, that is the twist!
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: How often does anyone making fun of him actually say "Shyamalan"?
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: There were reports of laughter and groaning breaking out in the theaters the moment his name popped up in the trailer for The Night Chronicles: Devil.
  • One of Us: More or less; he pioneered "realistic" Comic Books films out of his love for comics and is a fan of Twilight, at least.
  • Prima Donna Director: Shyamalan is infamous for casting himself as The Messiah in Lady In The Water. This combined with the Straw Critic in the film included just to kill him off (who was ironically one of the most popular characters in the film) are supposedly how he thinks of himself. Much mockery from critics ensued.
    • Technically he doesn't cast himself as the messiah, just as a writer whose book will someday inspire the next messiah.
      • Also this interview shows that he really thinks highly of himself.