M. Night Shyamalan
Bryce Dallas Howard
Release: 30 Jul. 04
BY: DAVID PERRY
That loud sound you might have heard was M. Night Shyamalan’s
career shattering after falling from a thirtieth floor penthouse. The
self-absorbed filmmaker behind such twist-ending mood pieces as The Sixth
Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs (kudos goes to his handlers for making people
forget his first studio film, Wide Awake), delivers his latest magic trick
with the type of egotistical superiority that befits a man creating his own
destruction. If his career survives this contemporary equivalent of Heaven’s
Gate, I’d be truly impressed.
Yet, as I must always say about Shyamalan’s works, the film looks so good.
Working with cinematographer Roger Deakins and supplementing his shots with
a beautiful score by James Newton Howard, his technical achievement is never
really in question. But he’s evidently so intent on twisting his films into
unpredictable pretzels that he’s lost notice of how inept the twists have
become. While I was willing to give him a slight pass for Signs, this is
just rotten to the core. I’ve long said that The Sixth Sense is a horrible
film with a fantastic ending -- at least with The Village, he’s consistently
bad from beginning to end.
I cannot say just how tempting it is to write about the film’s twist, partly
because I feel the need to ridicule it out of contempt for its silliness,
partly in hopes that telling it might dissuade readers from seeing The
Village. I’ll keep mum, though, because I know that even if I told the
twist, you’d still go; there’s no way you’d believe that Shyamalan,
Touchstone, and the cast and crew involved in this production would have let
a film this bad go into the marketplace. They did let it happen, so enter at
your own risk.