M. Night’s Favorite Movie

M. Night Shyamalan has recently become a bit of a punching bag for everyone. His last few movies (The Village, The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Last Airbender) haven’t much endeared him to critics or audiences. It’s getting to the point where the M. Night brand dissuades audiences from seeing a movie rather than clamoring over each other to get tickets. But I don’t want to pick on Shyamalan. His first three movies I found pretty enjoyable and I still have hopes that one day he might reclaim his status as a must-see filmmaker. So in honor of M. Night, let’s take you through what I assume must be his favorite movie: 1998s thriller Wild Things.

So it’s pretty close to the when the Sixth Sense was being filmed that this movie came out, but I have my suspicions that M. Night saw it and immediately changed the ending to his script. Originally, it was too murky and artsy, playing on the metaphor of ghosts, loneliness and the difficulties of being a young boy without a father figure. It didn’t have the pizazz just then that would ultimately endear it to audiences and critics alike and become a Best Picture nominee and conversation starter. And a little movie starring Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, and Denise Richards came out at just the right time to change all of that.

The story of Wild Things is deceptively simple: a pair of high-school girls accuse their guidance counselor of rape. Two detectives delve into the case and discover that nothing is what it seems. It’s pretty standard thriller fare: a fishy crime, a nosy cop, and some T & A to get the teenage boy demographic into the seats. But Wild Things adds M. Night’s favorite plot mechanic: the twist. And we’re not talking one twist here. We’re talking about a whole bag of pretzels. Yes, that was awful.

The great thing about watching this movie is that it’s the only time where you can bullshit about who may be involved in the crime and you turn out to be right. A typical conversation may go something like this:

“Hey, you see that guy in the background? That janitor character? Yeah, I bet he’s the mastermind behind the whole thing.”

Twenty-five minutes later….

“Holy shit, he was the mastermind.”

But it doesn’t stop there. There’s a double-cross, and then a triple-cross, and then a shocking murder, and then another shocking murder, and then a quadruple-cross, and then a character that you previously thought was dead but actually isn’t twist. The best part? The during the credits twists. Yeah, this film has so many twists to it that they had to film about five extra scenes and cram them in between the end credits just to mess with your head a little more. It’s M. Night’s late-night fantasy.

 

He applauds Wild Things use of the twist.

 

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