I remember it clearly, the end credits were rolling, the
auditorium lights were fading up when a well-known media personality, that I
won’t name, turned around in his seat in front and said to my friends and I;
“What the fuck was that?”
The year was 2000 and I’d just sat through a preview screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s much-anticipated follow-up to his previous blockbuster ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’. My friends and my reaction was the complete polar opposite of said famed personality. We saw the film for what it was, an utter genius take on a superhero origin movie.
‘Unbreakable’ was in
fact a bold experiment by Disney, they’d entrusted their new wunderkind
writer/director to follow up his previous success with another, and he’d gone
and made a superhero movie way before anyone had.
Over the years that followed I re-watched and re-watched its
Special Edition DVD. It was my go-to movie any time I was looking for something
to watch. I devoured its rich story telling, it’s perverse humour, the subtle technique
in reveal and what to not reveal. I loved the raw drama; of a normal couple
toppling over a razors edge, two middle-aged men (Bruce Willis and Samuel L
Jackson) searching for their place in the universe, a son desperately holding
onto that time in your life when your parents are infallible. None of these
were, or are, the standard ingredients of a comic book superhero movie. I
savoured the Special Features on the DVD, particularly the ‘deleted scenes’,
lamenting on their loss to ‘Unbreakable’
considering they were such strong scenes.
I loved the film from back to front…but the critics didn’t.
Reading bad review upon bad review I wondered whether the critics had watched
the same film.
Over the years I’d heard rumours that ‘Unbreakable ‘was to be the first film, the origin film, of a trilogy, but the more and more M Night spiralled into mediocrity with flop after flop, first came ‘The Lady In The Water’ and ‘Avatar The Last Airbender’, etc. etc., only slightly redeeming himself with ‘The Visit’.
So flash forward to 2018 and there I was ‘giving M Night
another go’, I sat in my lounge room watching ‘Split’ because, well…James McAvoy is always bloody amazing and I’d
just watched Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The
Witch’, so yeah….
And I was really enjoying it a lot. Though the more and more
I watched, more and more something nagged at me – there was something really
familiar at play here. The subtle reveals, the perverse humour, its dark
Was McAvoy’s many characters crazy? Hell yeah, he did have
some serious mental defects but the big question, as with David Dunn in ‘Unbreakable’…were his powers real or a
figment of a wild imagination?
Would we see a supernatural being called The Beast or would
it be some delusion fool with a furry fetish?
But it was as I was watching The Beast talk about the
‘broken’ being pure and the ‘unbroken’ were to be punished that things really
started to click. By the time the ‘Unbreakable’
music began to swell as Crumb hid in his escape house and we cut to a
non-descript diner with David Dunn I was literally off the sofa screaming at
“IT’S A MOTHER FUCKING UNBREAKABLE SEQUEL!!!”
And so now I have my finale.
‘Glass’ is really
not a movie I can openly discuss with giving too much away, and frankly I’m
still thinking about it several hours after I watched it. However again I sat
in a cinema with an audience that I don’t think quite understood its wit. I
think I was literally the only one laughing at its dark humour.
The cast were amazing, all returned from the previous two
films (except Robin Wright) and why wouldn’t they, this was as much their story
as it was the leading pro/antagonists. M Night (returning as his cameo from ‘Unbreakable’) even managed to include
the deleted scenes from ‘Unbreakable’
as if they were made solely for that purpose.
This is not a conventional film though; ‘Glass’ is really is an act three of a three-film
story. And while both ‘Unbreakable’
and ‘Split’ appear to be origin
stories for the three lead characters Mr Glass, The Beast, and The Overseer,
this transcends the ‘origin’ tale to make it an ‘origin of species’ story.
Already, like Unbreakable,
critics do not like Glass but
filmmakers don’t make films for critics.
‘Glass’ is a fantastic
final chapter to M Night Shyamalan’s daring superhero experiment. It’s
exciting, it’s funny, it’s bloody entertaining and it’s a very well calculated
story from a bold director who maintained the tenacity to play the long game
here to create a three part opus for himself and us.
‘Unbreakable’, ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’… the little superhero films that could and did.
What does this mean to the genre as a whole? It can spell good news as the movie business see success and a money opportunity to exploit this genre to the bone.
This could mean an outpour of horrendous carbon copy movies that will grate to the bone, but it can’t be as bad as Amityville: The Awakening, Leatherface, or Jeepers Creepers 3 right?
But let’s not be too hasty on the negative-front. What does look promising is that we could very well get some fine horror films churning out over the coming years.
So with that in mind, the team stitched our collective minds together and come up with 18 of the most anticipated horror movies coming out that we would love to bring into the operating theatre and splice them wide open.
Directed by Alex Garland and starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac looks off the dial.
The fact that it has been picked up by Netflix for a release some 17 days after its cinematic release has left some people scratching their heads as to whether or not this film has merit, but that’s old school thinking.
We at Surgeons see this at as a bold attempt at a streaming company to make their move onto the big arena.
If the trailer is anything to go by this film could be a massive hit and shape up the distribution method in a big way.
Some may instantly see comparisons with The Autopsy of Jane Doe with this one, but this story of a city cop fresh out of rehab, who takes up a role at the city hospital morgue, could very well be a trippy affair, where sanity is on the line.
You’d be remiss to neglect this one on the list. With the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle in their respective roles, alongside the creative minds of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, can we finally see Michael Myers rampaging his way that will delight and reignite the franchise once more?
The House With A Clock In Its Walls
Cate Blanchett and Jack Black lead the charge in Eli Roth’s latest feature about a young orphan and his magical uncle who go in search of a clock that could bring about the end of the world.
Could we see a return of fantasy horror on the big screen? Can Roth extend his bloody touch to go beyond the success of Green Inferno?
Whilst this has already been released in the States, the Surgeons team who are based in Australia, need to wait with eager anticipation for Elise Rainer and her team of ghost hunters to delve into the Further once more.
Early reports suggest that Lin Shaye continues to impress in her role, but that the franchise may have run its course. We’ll have to wait and see before we cast our thoughts on the latest addition to the franchise.
2015’s release of The Witch and its success may have reawakened that love of folk horror, which has been embedded in British culture with the likes of The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, and Blood on Satan’s Claw, has some of our team intrigued by this latest offering.
Set in 1920’s Ireland, a twin brother and sister must endure a sinister presence with a strong hold over them that may result in turning them against one another with drastic circumstances.
Whether you like him or not Jason Statham has a habit of packing a punch when it comes to ‘balls to the wall, testosterone-fuelled action movies.
Now he must come face-to-face come face to face with a 70-foot shark.
“You’re gonna need a bigger air tank.”
The New Mutants
When Logan was released and with the success that followed, Marvel were then faced with the enterprise of a much darker world.
In steps, The New Mutants which sees Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) among the imprisoned young mutants as they discover their new-found abilities and potential salvation.
Speaking of franchises, The Conjuringuniverse continues to expand and haunt in more delectable ways to terrify our souls with the much-anticipated return of Valak.
In this instance, Rome is our setting and Father Burke is sent to investigate the mysterious death of a nun. Burke played by Demian Bichir, who I hope is given more time to flex his acting muscles compared to his under-used performance in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant.
Gary Dauberman from It, Annabelle:Creation, and The Conjuring 2 is back on board to write the screenplay, so expect similar twists, turns, and scares to arise.
In addition, Corin Hardy steps in to direct, who oversaw the surprisingly decent The Hallow from a few years back and has been given the vote of confidence to resurrect The Crow, starring Jason Mamoa.
Becoming something of the lesser cousin to the Alien franchise, The Predator universe has never managed to really make a dent beyond its original Arnie feature, which surprises as it is ripe full of potential.
One of the original stars Shane Black is on to direct, so you could argue that there isn’t anyone closer to the source to re-capture the magic of the first film, and he has proven success with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, but is that enough to win over fans and the many?
The additions of Oliva Munn, and Thomas Jane, who has had a something of a career comeback with Before I Wake, and 1922 of late, could very well help cement this together.
Where some were left aggrieved following the screening of It Comes At Night, (which is probably the best example of false advertising when it comes to luring your audience in – as an aside its actually a pretty decent and intense movie, just not how it was promoted) will no doubt have their needs met in this movie, which promises an intense and horrific ordeal.
John Krasinski directs and stars in his passion project alongside Emily Blunt as part of a family forced to live in silence from an unknown threat that will attack with the slightest noise.
The first film had horror fans divided – a bit like vegemite, you either love it, or hate it. For those that fell into the former category, they can rejoice as the trio of masked psychopaths return to reek havoc on some more prey.
The cast includes Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, The Neon Demon) and Martin Henderson (The Ring, Everest) and is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Other Side of the Door) but don’t let that sway you as he also helmed the magnificent F, and if he could tap the rage and anarchy unleashed in that movie, we could have a surprise hit on our hands.
Horror production giants, Blumhouse, who have been partly responsible for the rise in recent genre movies will be hoping to keep the trend going and repeat their successes of Get Out, and Happy Death Day.
Truth or Dare follows a group of friends who play a deadly version of said game when those that break the rules start a meet a grisly end.
Critically praised film director, Steven Soderbergh enters the horror arena with his usual approach to exploring different filming techniques, in this instance shooting the entire film on an iPhone camera.
The cast is also impressive with Claire Foy (The Crown), entering a mental institution and once again reality comes into question. Foy is accompanied by Juno Temple (Horns), Aimee Mullins (Stranger Things), Amy Irving (Carrie) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project).
If The New Mutants is going to push the boundaires of darkness in the Marvel universe, then Venom will surely rip that apart and enter whole new level of insanity.
With Tom Hardy taking on the titular character, you can expect some hefty weight in the acting department.
It’s a project that is shrouded in secrecy at the moment and just a few screenshots that have been handed out to the media. Lets hope that it will be worth the wait.
Helen Mirren takes on the role of Lady Winchester house, heiress to the Winchester firearms, who becomes obsessed with building a house to trap ghosts with one of the most obscure architecture ever built.
From the creative minds of the Spierig Brothers (Undead, Daybreakers), this movie could be hit or miss.
Like me, you may have believed that The Sixth Sense was M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial debut, such was the impact that movie had on his career and the horror genre.
Before this movie awakened our senses and Shyamalan became known as the director with the twist endings, he would take the helm with two other features, Praying with Anger, and Wide Awake.
The former would see Shyamalan write, direct, produce, and star (a sign of things to come) in a self-reflective story about an Indian American, who was raised in the States who goes to India to study, and a conflict of Western and Native culture collide.
Clearly, there is a lot of the director’s love and labour thrown into this project as he covers every aspect of the production process.
Six years later (1998) Shyamalan would venture into his sophomore feature with Wide Awake, a comedy drama starring Denis Leary, Dana Delany, and Rosie O’Donnell.
Once more faith, and religion (a reoccurring them in Shyamalan’s work) would play a part in this story, as a 10-year-old searches for answers around life and death.
Another signature that would return for the third movie and the film that would put Shyamalan’s name on the map would be to tell the story through the eyes of a young boy, capturing the essence of innocence in a ‘brave new world’.
The Sixth Sense
The blessing and the curse
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and thrust Shyamalan into the spotlight.
The Sixth Sense has been referenced and parodied on numerous occasions, and cemented itself firmly into pop culture.
Starring Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and career defining performance from Hayley Joel Osmont.
Despite all the accolades thrust toward the movie, because of its ‘surprise ending’, it falls into the trap of lost magic, once the reveal is apparent.
People may have been keen to re-watch and scrutinise every aspect for the clues set up along the way, but essentially, you could never capture THAT moment again with repeat viewing.
It’s a strong contender in Shyamalan’s canon of work, but arguably not his finest hour for this writer.
Personally, I don’t feel he has managed to top his follow-up movie…
The elevation of success continues
Bruce Willis would once again work alongside Shyamalan following the success of The Sixth Sense.
This time Samuel Jackson and Robin Wright, rounding out a stellar cast that would accompany him.
Shyamalan’s ode to the comic book genre has been labelled as one of the best superhero movies of all time and you can clearly see the director’s love for the subject.
Unbreakable is a wonderful shot and beautifully told story that pits Willis’ David Dunn, a man who discovers that he is as the title suggests, unbreakable when he is the lone survivor of a train crash.
Dunn pits his strength and wits against Jackson’s Elijah, his polar opposite in that his body is prone to fracturing easily and in my mind, one of the best things about the film is the way Shyamalan’s narrative leads you to believe and identify with the reasons that Elijah resorts to villainous behaviour, a topic that many have tried but failed to convey.
Shyalaman’s third success would come in the form of…
The last hurrah?
Signs would complete Shyalaman’s hat trick of successes before his fall from grace.
Once more faith is put under scrutiny when Gibson’s Father Graham Hess is struggling to identify with his religion after the loss of his wife.
It’s his acceptance of that grief that shoulders him and ultimately his family through an alien invasion that threatens their way of life.
With each movie Shyamalan has released his formula had been pretty consistent, but audiences were starting to wisen up to his craft.
His next feature would break the camels back and see a downward trend in Shyamalan’s fortunes.
The one trick ponyrevealed
I’m gonna ask a question here relating to The Village, which in my opinion has received unfair criticism towards it.
If Shyamalan had not been the director, would we (the audience) have been so scornful?
Too many people had become familiar with the directors trick of adding a surprise ending that when said trick arrived in The Village, there was a sense of being let down.
“Oh, is that it? WTF!!”
However, if you take Shyamalan out of the equation and simply look at the movie on its own merit, it’s actually a lot stronger than our immediate reactions warranted.
Joaquin Phoenix returns as Shyamalan’s latest muse, this time portraying Lucius one of the next generation of a secluded villagers that we’re led to believe darkens back to days of yore, such is the existence that the inhabitants lead.
Believing that their secret is set to be exposed, the Elders are rescued by a stroke of luck when a blind girl, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) ventures out into the outside world to retrieve some much needed medicine.
As I said, I liked this movie. Agreed not Shyalaman’s finest hour but it’s a solid movie.
Any fans of the directors work that found themselves sitting on the fence of uncertainty about Shyalaman’s directing prowess, would find their confidence drift further with his follow up film…
Lady In The Water
The fall from grace
There’s no doubt in my mind that Shyalaman is a smart man.
His intelligence brims to the surface of all of his movies.
But like another smart man once said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
And with his recent run of successful movie hits, one can’t help but thing that Lady In The Water is an example of how the directors vision had left his vision firmly in the clouds.
You have to commend him for the effort portrayed in infusing a fantastical world based in reality, but Shyalaman is so absorbed in his own creation and egotistical views that he fails to see the bigger picture, and because of this, he loses his audience in a convoluted mess of a fairy tale.
What makes it worse, is the now notorious self-casting of the writer come to save us all.
It feels so egotistical that and the delusion is worrying sign for a director/writer who had shown so much promise.
And as if he were hell-bent on destroying his career, Shyalaman decides to kill off a character within the plot who just so happens to be a movie critic.
If Lady In The Water has one saving grace, it’s that Giamatti’s performance keeps the narrative bopping above the surface, but not even the addition of a good cast in support, notably Bryce Dallas Howard as the nymph, Story, and Jeffrey Wright as Mr Dury can help save this film from drowning in a pool of its own vomit.
So, where to from here?
His first box office disappointment and Shyalaman chooses to push on regardless with…
The film that limped across the line.
With a point to prove, Shyalaman would turn his attention next to a B-Movie horror with smarts.
But The Happening was hardly a victory.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, who himself criticised the film and Zooey Deschanel, an actress who usually sets the screen alight with her strong performances.
With a promising start, The Happening does hold promise, but the audience once again finds themselves lost in the lack of plot structure and smothered by the overbearing message on environmentalism.
By now, we’ve reached the mid-way point of Shyalaman’s career thus far and the feeling I get as I survey his filmography is that he’s a man with grand visions and ideas, but he’s not necessarily going to execute them effectively.
Case in point…
The Last Airbender
Dead on arrival
Based on the successful kids tv series on Nickelodeon, The Last Airbender should have been a success given its strong following, and this could be in part why it received a fairly strong opening weekend at the Box Office.
But the first movie that Shyalaman would attempt from a story that wasn’t his own would prove to be another failure for the director.
This film to me feels like a move from a guy who is lost in the world and with no sense of direction or where he is going.
Which is understandable considering his recent run of poor performances.
With a central character who displays no personality whatsoever and a script that clearly doesn’t connect with the writers ethos, The Last Airbender is a film that doesn’t even register on the Richter scale and doesn’t stir any emotion at all.
This is Shyalaman’s lowest point in his career.
When you reach rock bottom there’s only up though, right? Right?
An interesting response from Shyalaman during this time was to put on his producer hat and support another movie released in 2010 called Devil.
This film was actually quite good and showed promise, but importantly saw a success under Shyalaman’s name but this time not as a director.
That particular journey had still needed to right itself and was by far from finding solid ground.
Instead we’re treated to…
This movie was essentially a passion project of Will Smiths.
Based on an idea that he developed, After Earth would also star Smith’s son Jayden and produced by Smith himself alongside his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith and Shyalaman.
The latter of whom feels like is still in self destructive mode, clambering up the sides of the hole of failure, which he pretty much dig himself.
As if he didn’t learn his last lesson, Shyalaman plummets into another disappointing film by tackling a story that is not his own.
Ironically, the director had lost faith in himself. Ironic in that faith is the very subject that fascinates this director when approaching storytelling.
Will Smith would describe After Earth as his most painful failure and there’s a reason that most people have tried to bury this movie from their minds, which falls just short of being the worst post apocalyptic sci-fi film of all-time.
No one can take Battlefield Earth off that mantle.
The much needed reprieve
Although his next move saw Shyalaman only serve as director for the pilot and serve as Executive Producer, the choice was an important step in his career.
By turning his attention to a different medium, (a tv series), Shyalaman would be able to realign himself once more.
Take stock and arguably bring him back into contention as an auteur once more.
This could very well be the turning point that Shyalaman was searching for in his climb back into the realms of success again.
On face value it struck me as just another found footage horror, with the protagonists played by sibling kids, Becca and and Tyler (Olivia De Jonge and Ed Oxenbould who both deserve high recognition for their performances in this) who go to stay with Nana and Pop-Pop, grandparents they’ve never seen before, which automatically sent signals off for me.
The plot line is a little clumsy in places as Shyamalan stumbles his way through telling a story on new-found confidence, albeit a little shakily.
There is another strength in the tale though to allow Shyalaman to stride forward in his tale, as the right ingredients are in place to propel the story forward with fear and trepidation combined with a genuine care factor for the central characters involved.
My only niggle was the slight arrogance from Shyalaman from the role of Becca.
She speaks intelligently enough but it just dips slightly into the level of annoyance and too many scars are on display still from Shyalaman’s previous outings.
This aside, it plays along nicely enough with a reward that doesn’t feel forced.
It’s a strong sign of things to come.
The return to form?
By the time I came around to watching this the word was already out and the spoilers had hit the net.
The audience reaction was… divided and yet I intended to come into this film with an open mind.
The pace and build up was faultless and thrust the viewer headlong into the ordeal that the 3 kidnapped girls face.
James McAvoy is simply outstanding displaying so many diverse personalities, although we only ever see 8 of the 24 in the film.
Perhaps because this would have been too confusing and the audience would have been lost.
Maybe Shyalaman has learnt his lesson after all?
Also making an impact on the screen in films such as Morgan and The Witch is Anya Taylor-Joy who delivers another defining turn as one of the kidnapped girls, Cassie, who has her own skeleton in her closet which becomes integral to the closing scenes of the movie.
There are some moments that he action is a little scattered in places but overall Shyamalan delivers a solid movie with the promise of an Unbreakable / Split crossover in the near future.
This news has got fans salivating at this prospect but also has film lovers in a frothing frenzy of anger at the idea of another movie being released by the director.
Has Shyamalan burnt too many bridges in his audience trust?
Is he bouncing back from redemption? And does have what it takes to another another successful feature?
Love him or hate him, I’ve come to admire his appetite to keep challenging himself and delivering compelling stories.
Each story he produces takes him in a different direction and he seems fearless to take on his visions.
Yes he may not land with every punch, but there’s not many other directors out there in the mainstream that continue to offer something new to the scene and to produce conversation with every project that he overseas.
For good or Ill, I’m glad to see someone like Shyamalan still producing in the film industry.
And I’ll have to hang my hat on that unpopular statement.
Release Date:7 Sep The story of a group of kids who take on a killer clown entity only to face their demons once more in adulthood. Prediction:It’s the Stephen King tale that confirmed my love for his work and as much as people praised the mini-series, in particular that of Tim Curry’s performance, (of which I concur) there was a slight lacking in the fear factor that the entity creates that is captured in the book. If they can do that then they’ve hit a winner in my book.
Release Date:8 Jun As Universal Pictures look to resurrect their horror movie franchise, they turn to the familiar tale of the Mummy. In this instance keeping the action adventure feel but dialling it up to 11+ and casting Tom Cruise in the lead. Prediction:Someone described this online as Mission Impossible with a supernatural twist which I feel is an adequate description. This movie will probably be a case of all style and no substance, but will be a hit regardless.
Release Date:17 Feb A pandemic outbreak in the form of a mutated version of rabies turns humans into a new species called ‘the infected’. Stars Doctor Who’s Matt Smith and Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer, this definitely has a British vibe and will tread that line of drama and realism with adequate aplomb. Prediction: Better than your average movie and could be a surprise hit as a result.
Release Date:10 Mar The French film and television industry are starting to generate some deliciously disturbing stories of late and Raw is the latest to fall into that mix. Following the story of a vegetarian who takes part in an initiation ritual that leads her to becoming a cannibal. Prediction:Believe them or not but there have been reports of medial services being called out to attend to audience members fainting over the graphic nature involved. This merely piques my interest further and leads me to believe that this could be the sleeper hit of the year.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Release Date: 26 Jan Alice and friends must team up one last time against the evil Umbrella organisation and save humankind. Prediction:There are fans of the series who will love this film and the makers will give them all they what they expect and more. For other mortals, this will be yet another exercise for Paul WS Anderson to delve into the franchise that he has dedicated most of his career to by taking one last bow.
Release Date:23 Feb It’s starting to feel like the year of the franchises and there’s a couple more to come yet. The American version of the J Horror success gets its third outing. Set 13 years after the last movie, but the twist this time is the discovery of a movie within the movie of the cursed videotape. Prediction:More of the same with nothing new on the table will make this a tired exploration of a tried and tested genre.
Release Date:27 Oct Another film franchise set to return with its traditional Friday before Halloween. Prediction:Most people will want the gore factor heightened and the traps to be extravagant and near on impossible to escape. With the Sperig brothers at the helm, I feel that this could a triumphant return for Billy The Puppet.
Release Date:26 Jan An American psychological horror thriller film from M. Night Shyamalan. His last film The Visit showed signs of his former glory but can the story of three girls being kidnapped by a guy with multiple personalities continue his upward trajectory?Prediction:Shyamalan may only be saved by James McAvoy’s performance. That’s a lot of pressure resting on his shoulders.
Release Date:14 Oct All is not as it seems behind the walls of a prestigious Dance Academy in Berlin. What lies behind the grisly murders? Prediction:What can I say about this remake? It’s hard to shake the attachment I have for the original, which is one of my favourite horror movies ever. But IF I were to remove my snob hat for a moment, the leafs hold a lot of potential, with Chloe Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, and Tilda Swinton. Let’s pause judgement and say that this could prove to be one of the surprises of the year.
World War Z 2
Release Date:8 Jun The Zombie outbreak that was based on a pretty good novel only to disappoint with its massive snooze fest of a film. But it managed to gain a wide release and success which only means one thing. A sequel. Prediction: Despite Brad Pitt apparently coming back and the promise of a whole new direction, I can’t help but feel that this movie is going to be yet another let down.