...Or at least, that's my impression after observing the audience reactions to the trailer for Devil, the new M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller directed by [REC] re-makers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. The trailer played before both Inception and Scott Pilgrim and in both cases audiences were kind of rolling with it until Night’s name popped up on the screen and that’s when the laughter started. From there, audience members in one screening started shouting out potential twists for the movie or generally tuning out and chatting with their friends.
Now, both audiences were college-age crowds in a college town. Still, this is kind of a big deal for the master filmmaker’s cachet at this point and if this isn’t the actual death knell for his reputation it’s at least on life support. And it’s unfortunate, because Devil doesn’t look half-bad in a kind of Red Eye/Joy Ride sort of way. It feels like one of those lean little thrillers that has a couple of good surprises you’ll talk about with your friends after the fact that should be a solid, medium-tier performer when it drops in September.
But with Shyamalan’s name attached that doesn’t appear to be in the cards anymore. His reputation has become toxic, and the idea of sitting through one of his films has (for me at least) little to no appeal. I just don’t want to deal with his formulaic upending of formula, if you know what I mean. The prospect of yet another self-serious movie where the plot is stifled out of the characters like some kind of horror-movie version of Crash makes me want to run screaming out of the theater.
And again, this is kind of a crap reaction to have to the movie since for all intents and purposes Shyamalan is simply the producer on the damned thing. Hopefully for the brothers Dowdle, the trailer will be recut before the movie’s release (and in advance of any television spots) to minimize or maybe even omit the Shyamalan connection.