Is it too early to start making fun of M. Night Shyamalan’s next film? No? Thank god, because I have this whole thing written out already, and I would have been completely boned if you’d said, "Yes." Shyamalan--either through a deal with the devil (that even the devil is likely regretting about now); a series of misunderstandings so wacky they'd have to feature a guest appearance by Mr. Bean; or possibly just good ol' fashioned inscrutable Asian trickery--has managed to secure a three picture financing deal with Media Rights Capital called the Night Chronicles (because calling them "a colossal waste of money" seems a tad pessimistic).
Shyamalan writes, directs and produces most of his movies himself, ostensibly operating under the assumption that if you want to fuck up something that badly, you have to do it all yourself. But the first of the Night Chronicles movies, dubbed Devil, will mark the first time Shyamalan has conceived of and written an idea without also directing it. And this is just a monstrously bad idea: Shyamalan is actually a competent, if somewhat unoriginal director. He’s got a good eye and he knows how to build tension in a scene; it’s just that his ideas are hide-the-cutlery retarded. So inevitably, all of those tense scenes he’s carefully constructed end up taking a pratfall down the Dipshit Stairs when the monster is ultimately revealed to be an Amish dude or a douglas fir.
Say what you will about The Last Airbender, there was some good framing and solid construction in there. It’s just that, much like an overexcited teenage boy with a classic car, he couldn’t resist spewing dickhead all over it: He slapped flames and spoilers and other such novelty bullshit on it, bought all the wrong parts for it and then installed tinted windows so dark he couldn't actually see the road and flipped the whole thing into a ditch. But judging by the rest of his track record, letting him write and produce are the two things you should not do, while directing is the one thing you should. But hey, maybe he’s breaking out of his rut. Let’s at least watch the trailer and read the press release before we start judging:
“The "Sixth Sense" director will produce the supernatural thriller "Devil," an independently financed project based on his idea. Devil is basically a supernaturalthrillerset inside of an office building. There are some people stuck in an elevator, and one of them is not who they say they are [the devil]."
This article just became interactive: Quickly tear off a small piece of paper-- no more than an inch or so--and grab a pen. Now, jab that pen into your eyeball with a short, furious burst of power followed by a prolonged period of constant pressure. The best way to do this is to secure the pen to a wall or doorway, carefully line up your angles, and then fall forward into it - otherwise your pain centers are going to tell you to jerk it out before you get deep enough, and we really need to pierce the ocular wall and get into the frontal lobe here. I’ll give you a second.
Good! Now, pull the pen out of your ruined brain and write a sentence adhering to these criteria: Somebody or something is trapped somewhere unexpected, and one person or thing is not what one would otherwise reasonably assume.
All set? Awesome. I’m assuming you wrote something along the lines of “Hor dordle ordle dor” before the overwhelming pain and shock caused the pleasure center of your brain to misfire and you shot ejaculate on your keyboard. And that’s OK, because it’s still just slightly more intriguing than the premise of Devil. If we took up a collection right now, raised a modest budget, cast a charming, unpretentious lead and put “Hor Dordle Ordle Dor: The Tragic Story of One Disabled Man’s Quest to Find His Pants” on film, I promise you it would be a more rewarding cinematic experience than Devil.
And in case you think I’m exaggerating in order to make this sound worse than it is, here is the real, actual logline they were using to market this movie:
“The film revolves around a group of people trapped in an elevator, and one of them is the devil."
Do you have loved ones? Tell them you’ve been depressed lately. Tell them you’ve been lonely and listless; that you were honestly thinking about ending it all, and then you discovered the joy of writing. Make sure they know, in no uncertain terms, that this is the only thing keeping you alive. Then tell them you wrote a story. When they ask what it’s about, say these exact words out loud: “It revolves around a group of people trapped in an elevator, and one of them is the devil."
The concept for this film is so stupid that, even with your very life at stake, the person who cares about you most in the world has just now laughed themselves into a Tourettic seizure and are currently twitching on the ground while screaming obscenities. Keep in mind they are doing this despite being fully aware that this will shatter your fragile psyche and you will likely respond by sprinting into the bathroom to eat a Vicodin and Cognac Sandwich.
And remember that this is a three picture deal: A trilogy, a fucking saga of M. Night Shyamalan conceived and written films. Now, don’t ask me how I did this--there was a lot of cocaine, a good amount of huddled crying and about four quarts of lard involved--but I managed to get my hands on the idea sheet of possible storylines for the next two movies in the series:
Logline: Two men are trapped on an escalator and one of them is not what they seem [a grizzly bear].
Logline: Four girls are hanging out inside a dressing room [and one of them is Hitler].
Logline: Six and a half lesbians are trapped in a Baby Gap and one of them is the Higgs Boson particle.
Logline: Sixty-nine transvestites are trapped on a tour bus, and the bus is not what it seems [it’s Hitler again].
Logline: M. Night Shyamalan is trapped in one of his movies, but is he who he says he is? [Unfortunately, yes.]
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you can stay tuned for the extra special twist after the credits (HINT: It's nothing! Websites don't have credits and you can't "stay tuned" to them.)