Shyamalan is happily returning to his low-budget indy movie roots with his release of the gritty and, at times, whimsical thriller The Visit this Friday.
Although director M. Night Shyamalan has become a widely known name, his career path has not been an easy one. The trajectory has, however, been pretty fascinating. He started out his career with a couple of movies, 1992’s Praying with Anger and 1998’s Wide Awake, that were underwatched and were usually badly reviewed by those who did see them. He set the world on fire, though, with his 1999 work: The Sixth Sense, a movie that established M. Night’s now-legendary style of cinematography and use of color. His next film, 2000’s Unbreakable, although not quite as well-known, received even better reviews than its predecessor. The 2002 release Signs was another huge hit and cemented Shyamalan as a great horror director… or so people thought.
For many fans of M. Night, 2004’s The Village was a huge letdown when compared to his previous work. Many critics have theorized that the unexpectedly negative reception of the director’s heavily hyped film caused him to go a little crazy, because his next four films, 2006’s Lady in the Water, 2008’s The Happening, 2010’s The Last Airbender, and 2013’s After Earth were all huge critical and commercial failures when compared to the films from the “golden years of Shyamalan.”
M. Night has become famous for his movies’ often game-changing plot twists, and Shyamalan is hoping to execute a kind of plot twist in his own career with his most recent directorial attempt, The Visit, which is about two children going to stay at their creepy grandparents’ house. In other words, M. Night wants to catch viewers off guard by springing on them another masterful thriller.
Shyamalan says that his strategy to execute this career upset is simple: he needs to go back to his low-budget roots. He commented on his stance in an interview with JoBlo conducted just hours ago.
“For me, not having the trailers, not having giant stars and thousands of extras, I don’t mind it. I really like to tell about the characters and insinuate a lot… I like the story-telling style of keeping things a little incomplete and letting the audience fill it in, and this is all in line with that.”
Indeed, After Earth, his last film, starred Will Smith – one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood – and cost $120 million to produce.
An in-depth report on the film’s production from Philidelphia speculates that the current production is a nice change of pace and may be just what Shyamalan needs.
Now is the “time when he’s reclaiming his art, stripping it down to its most essential elements, and making movies fun again, for himself and his audience. If that means doing an indie film rather than hurling himself into the churning gears of the big-budget Hollywood machine again, so be it.”
The indie status the report mentions is made even more legitimate by the fact that Shyamalan is paying The Visit‘s $5 million budget from his own pocket. Jason Blum, the producer collaborating with M. Night, is on board with the decision and said so in an interview:
“When you get into expensive movie-making territory, it’s almost impossible not to think about the financial result, but when you make low budget movies, you can put that out of your head and create… One of the reasons I really love low budget filmmaking is you can have more fun, and be more playful, and be freer creatively”.
Paying for the movie out-of-pocket is very risky for Shyamalan, though. And the risk is not only financial, M. Night explains; it could have very negative repercussions on his career if he gambles and loses.
“I made a crazy movie starring old people and little kids and funded it myself. There’s only one way out: Make a great movie.”
Otherwise, Shyamalan explains, critics will tear him to shreds for the risky project.
The fact that Shyamalan went ahead with the high-risk high-reward project, though, means that he has a good amount of confidence in the fact that it will be well-received. So far, critics who have been allowed to view the movie in advance of its release have been proving M. Night right by giving The Visit an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.4/10 on IMDb. The most important consensus, though, will come from the fans when The Visit is released on September 11.
If you are not sensitive about watching trailers before you see the movie (some people are of the opinion that they spoil too much), give the one below a view. Whether you watch the trailer or not, though, let us know how you feel about Shyamalan’s most recent stab at film-making. Are you excited to see it? Do you think it will be successful and, if so, will it be enough for Shyamalan to salvage his name? We want to hear from you.
[Image via S. Savenok/Getty Images]