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.