M. Night Shyamalan’s descent into critical and commercial purgatory is almost legendary at this point. The filmmaker who made The Sixth Sense, one of the highest-grossing films of all time, made a string of flops in the mid to late aughts and earned a reputation for twist endings — an erroneous reputation, as only a few of his films have genuine “twists.” His most recent film, The Visit, shot in the found-footage style (several years after the sub-genre reached its peak, weirdly) in just 27 days, was self-financed for $5 million — which guaranteed that it would be his vision, without studio interference. Shyamalan spoke with the Verge about the decision to go rogue, so to speak:
I just wanted to concentrate on storytelling. I just wanted to concentrate on the things that make me happy as a filmmaker: writing a great script, not worrying about convincing someone else to make it, which is already a weird mindset to be in … I wanted to put as much of myself into it.
Shyamalan also spoke about how his “baseline is more emotional than the general population,” explaining how he’s always been as interested in family-oriented entertainment as he is dark, twisted dramas, even though people choose to think of the latter as his style. (He wrote Stuart Little the same year he made The Sixth Sense.) “It was fun,” he said. “A very rewarding process.”
Despite the critical maligning his recent films have received, Shyamalan speaks for a lot of artists and filmmakers who want to share their visions without having to dilute or alter them. You have to respect the guy for that.