Starting with 1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has surprised audiences with his plot twists and turns. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, the filmmaker sat down with Jonah Weiland on the world famous CBR Yacht and managed to surprise Weiland with what he had to say about his next movie and one of his earliest efforts. Shyamalan spoke about his upcoming horror film “The Visit,” explaining why he chose to make a contained thriller that focuses on to children. The conversation then shifts toward comic book movies, with Shyamalan revealing he was unwilling to accept the fact that “Unbreakable” falls squarely into the category until long after its release. Plus, the filmmaker comments on whether or not he would ever write a comic book based on the world of the “Unbreakable.”
On the genesis of his new horror film, “The Visit”: M. Night Shyamalan: You know what, I had this idea for quite a while — probably like five or six years. Actually, I had it when I did knee surgery, and I came out of anesthesia and I had this idea for this small, little movie — that is, a really screwed up, crazy movie. I wrote it down and then I said, “I want to do this. I want to do it small one day.” And then boom, you know, I just said, “Let’s just go do it.”
On minimalism and making “contained movies”:
I’m very comfortable with minimalism — that’s definitely something that has great interest. Even when you talk about “Unbreakable,” that’s a comic book movie where you don’t really see them battle. You know, it’s all contained in the house, or in the art gallery, things like that. This movie is the real sweet spot of these kids go to this farm and it’s all contained in this experience at this farm. I love that feeling. If you come to my house there’s all these pictures of contained movies on the walls — “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “12 Angry Men” … You can see in cinema today a lot showing, and that’s a very different style of storytelling, which is, “I’m going to dazzle you with fireworks.” That’s not my instinct. My instinct is to draw you this way rather than come at you.
On the marketing for “Unbreakable” and the film industry shifting toward comic book movies:
Ironically, [Touchstone Pictures] only makes comic book movies now [Laughs] … It was a conversation about the subject matter is very fringe, and comic book people is a fringe market — “Don’t limit our audience,” was the conversation. “Let’s keep it ambiguous about what this movie’s about, what’s going on.” Now, again, I was young and I didn’t understand what was happening. And we were all very successful together with “Sixth Sense,” so there was a lot of deferring to traditional thinking. But, in retrospect — I loved comic books, and that’s enough to fight for it. And that’s the lesson, regardless of the world shifted the way it did. My… if you could call it a failure at that moment, even though I didn’t have power to do anything about it, to fight and say, “Then make it a small movie, because that’s what the movie’s about. It’s about comic books. I love them and that’s what the story’s about. You have to sell it on this concept of: a guy gets tapped on his shoulder and someone says to him, ‘I think you’re a real life comic book hero.'”
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