Lady in the Water
Review by Kevin McCarthy
M. Night Shyamalan. That name has been the center of attention for horror/thriller movies ever since The Sixth Sense. If you are having trouble pronouncing his name, I can spell it out phonetically for you. It is SHY-MAH-LAN. Who would have known that a director with such an unusual last name would become one of the most popular directors of this day and age? It is funny when you think about it. I guarantee that if you ask someone which director they have heard of, Tony Scott or M. Night Shyamalan, they would probably know the latter. Even though Tony Scott has directed some great films; i.e. Top Gun, True Romance, Man on Fire and Enemy of the State, Shyamalan would still be more the recognizable. Why is that? His last name is almost impossible for most people to pronounce. That leads me to the potential of this film. Anytime this guy puts his name on a film, people get excited. Many people did not like his last film, The Village, but his movies still get a ton of buzz and people are always wondering what the big twist will be.
This time around, Paul Giamatti is the star of the film. You all know him from his Oscar nominated performance in Sideways and his quirky hilarious role in Howard Stern’s Private Parts. Shyamalan brings back Bryce Dallas Howard, which is the daughter of Ron Howard. She starred in The Village as a blind woman. He also brings along the amazing Jeffrey Wright from Syriana and Broken Flowers. Shyamalan is like the modern day Hitchcock because he usually shows up in his films to play a small character, but this time around, he has a relatively major role.
Shyamalan, at least in my opinion, is a phenomenal writer/director. He always delves into these fantasy like stories and adds thrills and horror to the mix, but Lady in the Water is completely different from anything he has ever done. The film really is not scary at all. Without joking, this film could honestly be labeled as a fantasy which will make you laugh a lot. Surprisingly, the movie had a ton of humor and most of this humor revolved around Shyamalan making fun of clichéd films. A lot of the dialogue is set-up to show you how films are usually all the same and that you can pick every little piece out to figure out what is going to happen next. Shyamalan is smart though. He knows that the audience is looking for a big twist at the end of this film, and he plays with you a lot.
The film is surprisingly good for two main reasons. It was a completely original idea which he did in a non-formulaic way. Also, the directing in the film was just fantastic. You will notice a lot of the shots will be of just someone’s body part or some type of odd angle. Overall, it well exceeded any potential that it had. A lot of people, NOT including me, were disappointed with The Village. Therefore, that makes them weary of this film. You have to understand something though. They are advertising this film as a scary movie and it is not. That is what we call, false advertising. It truly is one heck of an original story, and really falls in the category of a fantasy mixed in with some comedy. I went into the picture not knowing anything about it, and that is what surprised me. I hope you do the same.
Also recommended The Sixth Sense (1999), Encino Man (1992), Signs (2002).
Lady in the Water is written, directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard. It opens July 21st and is rated PG-13 for some frightening sequences.
©2006 Thomas Huff and Kevin McCarthy, BlownPotential.com