Shyamalan Slams ‘Sick’ Hollywood ‘Dysfunction’

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M. Night Shyamalan went from “The Next Spielberg” to the “Next Laughing Stock.”

The “Sixth Sense” director drove his career into a ditch with busts like “Lady in the Water,” “The Last Airbender” and “The Happening.” The latter cast Mark Wahlberg as a teacher running from killer gusts of wind. Really.

This reporter recalls seeing a trailer for the Shyamalan-inspired 2010 thriller “Devil,” and when the voice over announcer said, “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan…” the crowd erupted in laughter.

Yes, it was that bad for a spell.

Yet, Shyamalan rebuilt his career with “The Visit” (2015) and, later, “Split” (2016), revealed as a sequel to his 2000 hit, “Unbreakable.”

For better and worse Shyamalan keeps on going, and his decades in Hollywood have taught him a thing or two about the industry.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Shyamalan opened up to AFP about La La Land’s “dysfunction,” and his tough love assessments make some sense.

“If you look at the industry right now… there are movies that feel incestuous, they’re just masturbatory… It’s just Hollywood talking to themselves…And then there are movies where they’re saying: the audience is dumb so we’re going to take all the soul out and we’re just going to do it by numbers … These are signs of complete dysfunction.”

M. Night Shyamalan

Shyamalan is back this week with “Knock at the Cabin,” a thriller about a gay couple and their adopted daughter being abducted by a group desperate to prevent the apocalypse.

Or so they say.

Shyamalan’s “Knock At The Cabin” Hits Theaters This Weekend

It’s not based on an existing property or a sequel, and the director explains how he can feed his hunger for fresh stories.

“I found the only way is to leave the system and pay for it myself… to make small movies but take huge risks — not having to ask whether they like having a gay couple at the centre, or whether I should hire a wrestler… This is my way of staying healthy after spending a long time in a kind of sick industry.”

M. Night Shyamalan

He adds that at the start of his career, in the late 1990s, studios sought the best storytellers to reach the most people possible.

Now? Most movie audiences haven’t seen the movies up for Oscar consideration, and the gulf between critics and the general public keeps getting wider.

Harsh words, especially from a director who once targeted film critics by casting Bob Balaban as an unctuous reviewer in “Lady in the Water.”

He still makes some valid points.

M. Night Shyamalan keeps swinging, despite seemingly being the opposite of other Hollywood directors. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage).

Some Hollywood movies are little more than extravagant navel-gazing affairs. The recent flop “Babylon,” a look at the industry’s tawdry past, rushes to mind. How many films are set in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles when there’s an entire country begging to have their stories, their characters, shown on the big screen.

Any industry that flirts with awards-season glory by producing a film about love-struck cannibals should know there’s a disconnect happening.

Modern TV often delivers superior storytelling to feature films. Perhaps that’s why Shyamalan bounces between small and big screens with his work these days.

The Philadelphia native takes plenty of big, loping swings with his art. And, like with “The Happening” and the disappointing “Glass,” he often misses.

That flexibility, and the occasional smash, lets him keeping getting up to bat in dysfunctional Hollywood.

Written by Christian Toto

Christian Toto is an award-winning film critic, journalist and founder of, the Right Take on Entertainment. He’s the author of “Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul” and a lifelong Yankees fan. Toto lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and too many chickens.

Follow Christian on Twitter at

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