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Another thriller from M Night Shyamalan
April 23, 2008 11:01 IST

M Night Shyamalan has always been controversial. He had fans who swore by his suspense thrillers, and there are others who thought the ultra-secretive film-maker is phony, and his films flat out suck.

Now that the trailer of his The Happening is out, there is much speculation out there. The trailer doesn't give away much, but the big question is whether the Fox film, with India's UTV as partner, can resurrect the filmmaker's career badly bruised by Lady in The Water.

That film was rated a stunning folly, and made hardly a dent at the world box office. 'A lot is riding on The Happening -- not merely in terms of its actual plot, but in terms of M Night Shyamalan's career, which was looking in deep disarray after his stupendously egotistical last film in which he had the gall to cast himself as a sort of prophet, but neglected to craft a workable story,' announced Channel 4 News recently in Britain.

As to the new film, the best you can make out of the trailer is that the world -- or at least America -- is being assailed by a mysterious... something.

The film does not have stars like Bruce Willis [Images], who worked with Shyamalan on two films including The Sixth Sense, but it has Mark Wahlberg who plays a science teacher, and is seen in the trailer telling his students about the sudden disappearances of honeybees.

Bloggers have been busy with news -- and views -- of the trailer. Some think they should not say too much and should wait for the film to be released. Others believe the trailer falls flat -- and so will the movie.

There is also much talk of how Shyamalan, who is so very protective and secretive, of his scripts, and who left Disney over the script controversy of his dud Lady in the Water, actually revamped The Happening so Fox could buy it.

Fox CEO Tom Rothman decided to back the film after the rewrite, and Shyamalan seems to have learned something from the new process.

'Tom felt strongly about making this my first R-rated picture,' he told Channel 4 News. 'We talked about trying to get the kind of intensity that is present in The Silence of the Lambs,  and the kind that Guillermo Del Toro got in Pan's Labyrinth.'

'The impact of the beautiful things in that movie wouldn't have landed as strongly if the film had not been R-rated,' he added.

The director is said to have been keen to work with Fox as it had successfully handled apocalyptic films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. But those were mega-budget pictures; whether Shyamalan with his $60 million film, about 30 percent less than the average cost of star-driven films, would be able to whip up enough excitement to generate great word of mouth will be known in a few weeks.

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