An Earnest Letter

Dear Mr. M. Night Shyamalan;

This weekend I went to the opening showing of your latest film, The Happening. I should let you know that I have seen all of your movies. I was enthralled with your wonderful debut, The Sixth Sense, but ever since then you have been pretty hit or miss with me. Increasingly more ‘miss’, with each subsequent movie.

I absolutely hated Lady in the Water. I could not believe that with a very talented (and at the time very ‘hot’) actor like Paul Giamatti, all you could put out was that rambling, disjointed, self-important piece of crap. For a movie supposedly highlighting the ‘importance of storytelling’, you sure did a bangup job on that turdfest.

STILL. I decided to push aside my misgivings, and go out to see The Happening. The previews looked pretty good. Mark Wahlberg is a wonderful actor, and not bad to look at for a couple of hours. I like apocalyptic tales, so I dug in, and dared myself to believe that you could possibly deliver a good movie.

I am writing you this letter, Mr. Shyamalan, to tell you that I have officially written you off as “HACK” in my book. The Happening was yet another bloated turd to add to your collection. First off, HOW can you have wonderful actors–Mark Wahlberg has certainly proven himself over the past few years–and get such comical, dazed performances from them? The entire audience was cracking up for almost the entire length of the movie. We didn’t know whether we were supposed to be scared, or laughing hysterically. Why did you direct Mark Wahlberg to speak to every character as though he is speaking to an especially slow child? Why does Zooey Deschanel look like she’s in a perpetual state of confused surprise?

I have to admit, that the movie started off decently (besides the ridiculous five minute long credits at the beginning of the movie, ending dramatically–drums and shrieking violins–on your name: “An M. Night Shyamalan Film”!!!!!! Word to the wise Mr. Shyamalan–people do not appreciate sitting through opening credits that take as long as ending credits do, especially not when said opening credits are onscreen with absolutely nothing else going on–time lapse images of clouds moving across the sky does not constitute appropriate visual stimuli). The initial “freezing” and subsequent suicides were initially very shocking, and pretty badass. I especially loved the scene where the construction workers walked off the rooftops–beautiful, haunting images…but I believe this has more to do with the superb Tak Fujimoto as your cinematographer than it does with you.

Despite the cool horror of the initial deaths, even THAT lost its intrigue as the movie dragged on. We see so many people killing themselves in so many ways, that we become completely desensitized to it. By the time we actually see the guy getting mauled by lions (ON THE IPHONE, WOOT!), the audience was tittering. Hi lion, I’m a trainer, bite off my arm please! *munch munch, mmmmm* Hi other lion, seeing as I only have one arm left, please bite this one off too! *munch munch delicious!*

I happened to really like the overall concept of the movie. I think you had a solid idea there–but then again, I think you have solid ideas in all of your movies, which is probably why I had continued to waste money on them in blithe hopes that you would get your shit together, realize that you are NOT some movie making god, and get some help writing your scripts (because really dude, your scripts suck balls. Big donkey balls.). I like that you have moved away from ZOMGTWIIIIIST! endings, but like mama always said, “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?” You let us know exactly what was going on by mid-movie…which leaves…what? The desperation that mankind faces while trying to find new inventive ways to kill ourselves? Let me tell you, if that was your message then CONGRATS because I was having some suicidal thoughts trying to get through this movie.

Or perhaps this was your answer to the currently en vogue environmental/global warming phenomenon? Like Signs got to deliver some pseudo- moral tale about the importance of religion, and Lady in the Water was about the magic of storytelling? Is this your super-witty insightful response to Al Gore? Save the planet, but remember to buy iPhones and Motorola razors along the way!

And with that, Mr. Shyamalan, I bid you adieu. Like I said before, it really is a shame because you do have some interesting ideas. At the core of the movie, I loved the concept of The Happening. But your complete lack of finesse and inability to write a decent script, not to mention your ridiculous sense of self-importance (with every over indulgent lingering camera angle, your shitty direction, and not to mention your own self insertion as an actor in every one of your goddamn movies) has me at wit’s end. I am through with you Mr. Shyamalan…and I want my money back.

Sincerely, a most pissed off moviegoer,



  • Ana
    June 16, 2008 at 11:04 am

    LOL *is in hysterics*

  • Heather
    June 16, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Thank you for this post. I was just talking with my husband the other day about how M. Knight has long since jumped the shark. It’s really sad, actually, to see his downfall when a movie like THE SIXTH SENSE is so powerful. It will always be in my list of top ten horror films.

    Something is very wrong here, and I can’t figure out how much of it is his personality (ego?) or the studio system working against him. Maybe something good will happen, though, and he’ll have a comeback like Robert Downey Jr.

  • Mollie
    June 16, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Sweet, I won’t even bother.

    So, have you seen the Strangers yet? I heard it was good. Don’t think I’ve seen a review of it…maybe I missed it?

  • Trin
    June 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    My boyfriend enjoyed Lady in the Water quite a bit and while we were contemplating to go to the movies and see The Happening (the trailer kicked ass), but thanks to your (hilarious) review we’ll be sure to skip this one. thanks 🙂

  • Katie(babs)
    June 16, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Aw shucks. I was going to see this because the trailer looked amazing!
    The one movie I want to see and I hope to god it isn’t f-ed up is The Dark Knight!

    Would this be a good dvd viewing?

  • Thea
    June 16, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Ana :p Glad to be of service!

    Heather, you know I really do think he is a very talented guy. The Sixth Sense is a classic, and an iconic horror/drama/thriller. Maybe it is because Mr. Shyamalan hit it outta the park with that one (writing, directing & producing), he feels he will be able to do this with every movie? I think he has great concepts–heck, even though I hated Lady in the Water I found the idea brilliant (hence, why I cough up the money to watch each of his films in theaters). I do think that if he handed over the reins in the writing department at least, he could really put together something mind-blowing again.

    Mollie, I haven’t seen The Strangers yet! Guh! I’m planning on watching it sometime this week though 🙂 But in the meantime, if you have some netflix space available :p I recommend the movie ‘Them’ (French title ‘Ils’) which I believe The Strangers borrowed heavily from.

    Trin, the previews look wonderful, don’t they? I was wary, but when I saw those previews I was hooked…unfortunately, the best parts of the movie are pretty much in the trailer. You never know, and maybe you and your bf will like this one, but as we were exiting the theater the sentiment seemed pretty unanimous (there were a lot of grumbles, “well that was horrible!” type comments, etc.)

    Katie–Oh, don’t you worry. The Dark Knight is going to kick ass. No question. I refuse to believe otherwise! (And the X-Files movie as well–oh, on that note, probably the coolest thing about watching The Happening was the X-Files Movie trailer!)

    I would definitely say that this one is good for a rental. The deaths at the beginning and the concept behind what’s “happening” is pretty cool, even though the delivery was clumsy and the acting was just…off.

    On a 1-10 scale, I’d probably give it a 4.

  • Rosario
    June 16, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Oh, no! No, no, no! *sobs* And the worst part is that I probably won’t resist going to see it, anyway.

  • Kristie (J)
    June 17, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Funny letter!! I read a review of this one in the local paper and they said pretty much the same thing you did – only not so funnily. I loved The Sixth Sense – and wonder of wonders – I guessed the big secret at the end. And the one with Mel Gibson and Jouquin Phoenix (sorry – to early in the morning to try and remember titles) was pretty good. But others of his movies were just awful.

  • kmont
    June 17, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Thea, all I could think throughout your review was..




    Awesome ranting review and so glad I read it. Won’t be going to see it, renting it, nada. A coworker told me he’d happened across a spoiler on the ending, saying it was especially lame. As this has been the case for me with his last few movies, I then had no desire to see it.

    Majorly loved your review though.

    But wait…another X-Files movie? Where have I been?

  • Ana
    June 17, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Kmont!!! You didn’t know about the new X Files movie????
    We can’t wait for it. Look at my about me avi – it is a promo pic for the movie.

  • Thea
    June 17, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Rosario, well you never know! You might end up liking it 🙂

    Kristie hee thanks! The Mel Gibson/Joaquin Phoenix one is Signs. And, coincidentally, The Sixth Sense and Signs are the two Shyamalan films I own!

    Kmont, yep the ending (and a lot of the movie) was pretty lame-o. Sigh. But on a happier note, YES! The X-Files 2nd movie, I Want to Believe comes out in theaters July 25th! Here’s the official website!


  • Tracy
    June 17, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I have definitely not heard good things about this movie but I have to say for the most part I’ve enjoyed his stuff. Signs was fab! 🙂 *ducks and runs for cover*

  • Ana
    June 17, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Tracy, I quite liked Signs too. Actually, I really liked Unbreakable and The Village too

    *runs along with Tracy*

  • Thea
    June 17, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Tracy :p I really did like Signs as well. A bit heavy-handed with the religious sentiments, but I thought it was still a great movie (I liked it enough to buy the dvd).

    Ana, hehe :p While I don’t mind The Village so much (just found it an average movie that wouldn’t have been as good if Adrien Brody wasn’t in it), I fall asleep every time I watch Unbreakable (or end up laughing at Sam Jackson’s crazy hair and purple grape outfits–he looks like Chairman Kaga from Iron Chef)! LOL–but you’re in good company, the bf adores that movie too (like, he MUST watch it whenever it’s on).

  • Mollie
    June 17, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I liked Signs well enough. HATED The Village with a passion. Had the big “twist” figured out half-way through. Although, Adrien Brody was great…gotta love him.

  • Kate
    June 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm


    Ok so I really liked “The Village” even though I had the big twist figured out, oh, at least 3/4 way through and I’m not a huge fan of Ronette Howard (have forgotten her three-part name, sorry.) I do have a bit of a crush on Joaquin Phoenix, but I don’t think that influenced me too much.

  • Shannon
    June 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Damn. I was hoping this might be the movie in which he redeemed himself.

    Guess I will just have to stick with rewatching Sixth Sense.

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