Wednesday, October 8, 2008


A news story on Ain't It Cool News has elicited conflicting emotions from The Middle Room. Unbreakable is an exceptional film, one we would be all too glad to have a sequel to.

But... there are concerns. The problem is, of course, the enigmatic M Night Shyamalan (iD&Di: .27), who captured our attention and our praises years ago with The Sixth Sense, the modern classic which, in our estimation, may hold the distinction of being the most-mocked film of the past twenty years.

Yes, The Sixth Sense won our trust, and every film M Night Shyamalan has made since has strained that.

Which isn't to say he hasn't made anything worthwhile. In fact, many of us prefer Unbreakable and Signs to his first movie. We have even heard it claimed there may be fans of his most recent film, though this has yet to be empirically proven (we've yet to meet a single person who even saw The Happening, let alone enjoyed it).

What fascinates us is the polarizing nature of his movies. As much as we love Signs - it's one of our favorite alien invasion movies, in fact - we respect and understand the opinions of those who find the ending ludicrous (perhaps it is our understanding of Martian physiology that allows us to accept these aliens' elemental weakness).

Likewise, we understand why the pacing of Unbreakable frustrates many viewers, even though our experience was entirely positive.

What does escape us, is how anyone could possibly appreciate The Village as anything other than laughably bad. Yet there were positive reviews, most of which stating an understanding of why so many hated the picture.

There can be little debate that Shyamalan's fan base has shrunk with each picture. With each of us it was only a question of when we gave up and turned our backs on this filmmaker. It is a question, incidentally, you will find in our poll to your right.
(Update: Polls, like all mortal things, are fleeting. Do not mourn its absence; it is in a better place).

In addition, there is another phenomenon we've yet to witness: never have we met a person who disliked one Shyamalan picture then enjoyed a later one. It is well documented that once an individual has had one bad experience with this director, there is no hope of reversal.

And this brings us to our concerns with the prospect of Unbreakable II. If current trends continue, it seems mathematically impossible for this to be better than The Happening, let alone a worthy successor to the original.

Unless... it's possible that a sequel could be effectively grandfathered, as if it were created after Unbreakable rather than today. Shyamalan has never crafted a sequel before, so the precise properties are somewhat uncertain. Under this scenario, only those who disliked the original would be unable to enjoy the next installment. As fans of Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, we would be safe.

Another possibility is that The Happening was so bad that it reversed the law preventing his films from improving. We can't verify the likelihood of this scenario, however, since we didn't see The Happening (it looked, after all, exceedingly horrible).

So there is hope. But that isn't something we can trust: Shyamalan lost our trust with The Village, and we've not paid to see any of his movies since.

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