Confessions of an M. Night apologist

The critics tell me to stop.  Family and friends tell me to stop.  Even my own better judgement and sense of reason tells me to stop.  But addiction can’t be reasoned with.  

I’m chasing the high I’ve been chasing since I was a teenager.  It started with The Usual Suspects, that pure uncut feeling of being taken in.  My memory is hazy, I think Gabriel Byrne was involved somehow, all I can really remember is that feeling…and I wanted it again.

It happened by accident several times hence.  Primal Fear, Fight Club, The Others, all reminding me of that first time. By the end of the 90s I was hooked.  I’d watch film after film, trawling through hours of videotape for that same feeling – strung out searching for the experience of being strung along (the rewinding was the hardest part).

By 2006, I’d been sober for a good while.  The landscape had changed.  Oscars had been going to films about plastic bags, epic period pieces and eventually films that dealt with real life issues.  Hollywood was growing up and so was I.  Or so I thought…

That year, I took my partner on a date to see The Prestige.  A film about how tricksters trick people promised an insight into the nature and essence of my addiction.  Yet low and behold I was tricked!  I became fifteen again, giddy with delight, pimply and awkward, my suave persona shaken immeasurably.  Days later I should have been helping plan my wedding (somehow I hadn’t blown it totally) but I was distracted, still seeking to relive the experience of the movie.  

“Did you guess what was going to happen?” I’d ask as we were reviewing the seating plan.

“I really hope that Christopher Nolan keeps making films with twists!” I’d shout through the change room door during a dress fitting.

But Nolan did stop. He ushered in a new age of adults being allowed to watch superheroes on screen, he made high-concept science fiction palatable for the masses and the twist went the way of the Jive. I’d survived my addiction through the sheer fact of finding fewer and fewer opportunities to indulge it.

Until I found a dealer.  M. Night Shyamalan knows what I’m chasing and he’s reliable.  At least, this is what I tell myself.  Another film, another deception.  I keep coming back but the purity diminishes, each package cut with icing sugar, leaving me unsatisfied but still yearning for more. The Village hit the spot but left me feeling dirty.  The Visit was a nightmare of which the memory is mercifully short.  

There are health warnings on Cigarettes and we are advised to “drink responsibly”.  Yet there are no warnings on Shyamalan posters. Some bad movies will turn you off cinema but others will keep you coming back.  They say the first step is admitting it.  “I am a Shyamalan junkie”.

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