The ingredients of a Shyamalan movie … summed up in short-attention-span-friendly bullet points
Writing this review made me reflect on M. Knight Shyamalan, who I’m a big fan of, and the ebb and flow of his career. Is he an “auteur”? And what does that word mean other than that the user is a film student? There certainly is a distinctive Shyamalan style which flows through and connects all his work: Sixth Sense, The Village, Stuart Little. But what are the ingredients of a Shyamalan movie? Here I’ve summed it up in short-attention-span-friendly bullet points.
- Religious / Spiritual motif or thread (The Devil, Signs)
- Protagonist who is mentally damaged from a previous tragedy, usually the death of a loved one (Signs, Sixth Sense)
- A character who explains stuff / walking expositor, often to do with the religious motif or mythology underpinning the film (Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, The Happening, The Last Airbender, The Visit, The Devil)
- Some wooden or flabby dialogue (see previous bullet point)
Self-indulgentHitchcockesque cameo from the man, the legend himself: Shyamalan (Lady in the Water, Old)
- Super double twist ending, with cheese (Sixth Sense, The Village)
- Big Concept (the wind, err, kills? The Happening; people age quickly: Old; you cannot be injured: Unbreakable)
- Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Unbreakable, Glass)
- Colour symbolism, especially red (The Village, Stuart Little (no, but seriously though))
- Medical disorder or sickness (blindness in The Village, various in the Unbreakable trilogy)
- Sci-fi or fantasy setting or element to a horror-thriller movie (Signs, The Happening)
Of course, there are visual touches, too. These include seeing stuff in a reflection and shots that linger. But this post is about his writing. That all being said, can you come up with the next Shyamalan flick, paint-by-numbers style?
© 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry
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