SPOILERS for Lady in the water follow. Very soon after this warning, too.
M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water is truly his way to kill the film critic. Yep, you heard me, it's more than just a symbolic whine against them. He plays an important part in this story-about-his stories, raising his middle finger on auteur theory analyses that want him following in Hitchcock's footsteps, and goes along with his take on how to make a story work. 'Cause that's what he's been doing all along - not trying to deliver "the twist", as some moviegoers would have you believe up to now.
Although he did go into loads of trouble with his previous work, after Sixth Sense, to show people that's not what he's out to do, he failed enough in doing so that he went on to make this film, that explains it to everyone who cares to watch it. And heck, does it serve as an explanation to all. I'm sure people will respond to it in one of two ways: either by accepting the fact and learning, once again, why to admire him and his work, or by being tragically offended by it, seeing that they're the ones it's out to offend in the first place, and defensivelly dissing it.
He spelled it out for all. Had characters explaining the narrative roles they were there to play as they played them, had a film critic reading it all wrong and thus being the villain of the story more than CGI monsters could ever be, having the Story saved at the end, and self-righteously telling us, not that he learned illegal ninja moves from the government, but that the role he's here to play in changing the world of filmmaking will only bring on a renaissance, that will most probably dispell all academic conventions that analysts stand by until now, after people shed light to it, inspired by his work.
And yes, reading into M. Night Shyamalan's work has, up to now, been a better film course than any of the sort that can be found in Universities. One by one, his films all have something to teach. And this one is truly one hell of an exam. Into his work, what he's taught us so far, and, well, admittedly, into his own a$$hole.