Today, it’s another birthday for me. I figured it was time to watch another movie that was released on this special day; this is one of them. Also, today happens to be M. Night Shyamalan’s birthday. I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse.
A psychologist helps a kid confront his fears.
This was my first (and, so far, only) Shyamalan film. I saw this for the first time last year and returned to it today. I had heard the criticisms about his recent films and reportedly how terrible they were. I had my doubts when I saw this had placed on the AFI Top 100 for 2007. Keep in mind that this wasn’t spoiled for me.
My first time through, I thought it was a slow film that, once I knew the twist, was another box ticked off my list. It wasn’t until I pored through the bonus features that there were a lot of things I missed, specifically the use of color. The second time around, I saw the signs and gained a better appreciation for them.
The story’s tight, but what about the cinematography? It’s very deliberate but treads close to being pretentious. The slow pan during the “pendant” conversation, while somewhat visually engaging, seems to ask for a series of over-the-shoulder shots by the end just to break up the mundane nature of the scene. At the same time, the shot length complements the atmospheric feel of the film.
As for the film’s legacy, I figure it has had its fifteen minutes. From what I remember as a kid, my friends would say “I see dead people” without meaning. I knew it was from the film but I wasn’t sure how it fit. I dismissed it as one of the plainest quotes. As time went by, the quote was parodied to the point that when I saw it in context, the power was diminished.
Come to think of it, all of the people I know of who talk about this film only mention the quote and nothing more. It’s like knowing who or what Rosebud is, protecting the spoilers. Not exactly thought-provoking.
In the end, I believe that this is a well-crafted film that holds up today. Even though it doesn’t rank high on the AFI Top 100 or my personal favorites, it’s worth a few viewings that are worth your time.
1001 MYMSBYD selection
AFI Top 100 (2007): #89
400 Noms for AFI Top 100 for 2007