The audience had just settled into their seats at the late screening of The Kids Are All Right in New York City’s Chelsea district when the preview for the upcoming movie Devil came on. The shots of an upside down world mixed in with seemingly normal individuals peaked the curiosity of a few people. The rhythmic crunch of stale popcorn slowed down as trailer delved more into the plotline of the movie. “This looks good,” a woman mumbled to her friend.
At the crescendo of the trailer about two minutes in came a scene so shocking that it immediately elicited a loud verbal response from the audience. The words “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” – presented in red uppercase – appeared on the screen causing a raucous uproar.
“OH HELL NAW!” one man yelled alongside the jeers and groans of the rest of his audience. He clearly said what most people were feeling that night.
M. Night Shyamalan has turned a laughable failure in the eyes of the critical community and a sizeable cross-section of the film going public. It’s strange that someone who people believed could have been one of the great directors could be so reviled just a little over a decade later. Yet, for all those who have cursed Devil, his movies still gross highly at the box office. His latest critical flop The Last Airbender holds the record for his second-best eight day gross at $83.1 million dollars. It has a six percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet drew a mixed review from audiences, receiving a C rating from Cinescore. Though it might be barely passing, consider that The American, starring no less than George Clooney received an abysmal D-. (More on Techland: Shyamalan: Unbreakable Sequel Will Be Different Movie)
Despite the fact that critics destroy his work, a whole lot of people still are willing to pay to see his movies. So who’s right? Are his films as technically subpar as so many critics have claimed? Or is the proof in the box office? Paul Castro, a lecturer at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, says the real answer to the great Is Shyamalan A Shoddy Director debate may lie not in his editing or camerawork, so much as his attitude. “I really think he hurt himself,” he stated. “He has total disregard for his stories and his audiences intelligence… For an artist to have total irreverence for everyone and everything around them because they think know better is just not a good way.”