It doesn’t seem so long ago that M Night Shyamalan was the hottest thing since sliced bread.
During the summer of 1999, The Sixth Sense practically came out of nowhere, and like The Wachowski Brothers and The Matrix, which hit theaters several months before, Night was hailed as a new filmmaking genius. It didn’t take long for the bubble to burst however, and with each new movie his former promise seems to grow dimmer and dimmer.
Shyamalan is well known for his considerable ego, but it wasn’t just a case of a filmmaker getting carried away with himself once he became successful; he already thought he was the next Spielberg before The Sixth Sense. With enormous success, he became practically insufferable. And now with his next film, After Earth, which stars Will and Jaden Smith, he’s not writing the script, which considering how half-baked a lot of his story premises are is a good thing, and he’s also going to try a TV show with Proof.
As the Hollywood Reporter tells us, the show is for Syfy, and Shyamalan is partnering with Marti Noxon, who wrote for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and who also wrote the remake of Fright Night. The conceit of Proof sounds promising. A kid from a billionaire family that built its fortune on technology offers a big reward if anyone can prove there’s life after death. (The kid lost his parents in an accident.)
This kind of idea is something right up Shyamalan’s alley, but will he deliver like he used to? The big problem many have had with Shyamalan’s work in recent years is his usual formula of weird goings on in Philadelphia is old hat, and he’s got to do something new. After Earth has a promising premise, again he didn’t write the script which is a big step forward, and he’s also willing to work with another writer with Proof as well.
You get the impression M. Night’s trying for a comeback here, and is actually willing to try different moves to do it. And the public has a very short memory, so if his next projects deliver the goods, audiences will be there for them, but they may also want to downplay his name in the advertising of the film, because where M Night Shyamalan used to mean spooky supernatural thriller, in recent years its stood for half-assed premise that wouldn’t cut it on The Twilight Zone, let alone a full length movie.