Split Lives Up to Great Expectations

split-1With the most unstable U.S. president to date having been sworn in today, I feel it more than apropos that I’m reviewing a story about a character who is, well, relatively unstable himself.  But rather than serve as a political statement, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is an immersion into a morbidly formidable world that will transport the viewer – for about two hours – notably away from our chaotic political climate and the imminent danger that our country may face, and into the world of a man with DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder –a man who has multiple personalities, including a few rogue personalities bent on causing harm and destruction.  This review contains minor spoilers, but since the film is so new I won’t reveal the ending; as always, Shyamalan hits us with a barrage of surprises.  Continue reading “Split Lives Up to Great Expectations”

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Split Lives Up to Great Expectations

It Takes a Village (to Lambast a Filmmaker)

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Photo Credit The Village

While much of the world sits in judgement, furrowing its eyebrows at M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, it’s a film that’s near and dear to my heart.  Significantly, I didn’t even realize that was the case until I embarked on a Shyamal-a-thon this week and revisited many of his films after years of separation.  The Village, released in 2004, came out when I was a wayward sophomore in college.  In stark contrast to popular opinion, I liked the film so much I bought a copy of the DVD (which I didn’t watch much after that).  Despite my love of film and literature, my memory can be shoddy and I don’t always remember movies after I’ve seen them.  The Village, however, lingered in my mind long after the initial viewing.  As Michael and I watched it yesterday, I found myself able to predict almost every plot turn despite the time that’s lapsed since I last saw it.  A film has to be good, at least in my eyes, for me to remember it that well.  So I guess this piece is an attempt to defend the film – or to share why I like it – by pointing out the questions it raises, the tensions it explores, and why I think it’s so damn clever.  As per usual with M. Night, his tricky surprise ending will be revealed to give me full range of discussion and analysis, so brace yourself for spoilers. Continue reading “It Takes a Village (to Lambast a Filmmaker)”

It Takes a Village (to Lambast a Filmmaker)

Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable

Unbreakable © Touchstone Pictures
Photo Credit Unbreakable

M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) is an utterly unique part of his canon –nothing like the film that preceded it, The Sixth Sense (1999), and nothing like the film that succeeded it, Signs (2002). While The Sixth Sense and Signs are obviously horror films, Unbreakable falls more appropriately under the suspense umbrella. Unbreakable is the tale of an unlikely superhero who only slowly comes to believe he has superhuman powers, and an ardent comic enthusiast who’s been searching for a superhero his entire life.  Despite the ostensible pleasantness of this plot line, the film is remarkably dark and foreboding.  Unbreakable is at least as heavy, if not heavier, than The Sixth Sense, and far darker than the uplifting Signs.  As I find it impossible to discuss an M. Night Shyamalan film without addressing the ending, be warned that spoilers will occur in this analysis. Continue reading “Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable”

Breaking Patterns with Unbreakable

Spirituality in Signs: Extra-Terrestrials and Big Life Questions

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Photo Credit Signs

Note: This is my 100th post on Just Dread-full!  And for my happy 100, I’m going to write about one of my favorite filmmakers (M. Night Shyamalan) but I’ll be exploring more spiritual themes than usual (because this particular film demands it).  So, here it goes—spoilers involved!

Continue reading “Spirituality in Signs: Extra-Terrestrials and Big Life Questions”

Spirituality in Signs: Extra-Terrestrials and Big Life Questions

Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense

sixth-sense-oneMichael and I have been talking lately about the phenomenon of hating.  Of course, hate is prevalent in all sects of life, and more problematic in some sects than others.  But when it comes to the arts, and films specifically, people love to hate.  Witness the new female-driven Ghostbusters film: it’s brilliant and funny and original, but people get this weird high off slamming it on the internet.  The same goes for the Star Wars prequels: any attempt to re-visit the highly successful plot of the first three films was certain to be met with some contempt, because our proclivity to love has an opposite proclivity to hate. And I think the same observation could be made with M. Night Shyamalan. Continue reading “Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense”

Sensing Brilliance in the Sixth Sense

Unsavory Stigmas in The Visit

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Alert: This article contains spoilers. It would be best to read this when you’re done with the movie.

Who doesn’t like a good M. Night twist? In that respect, The Visit surely delivers. Now here’s my dilemma: You see, on the one hand, I like the movie. The film sits comfortably in the realm of what I call “horror with heart”: genuinely scary movies that also have warm moments and likable characters. My boyfriend, who tracks the nightmares he gets after watching horror movies with me, didn’t lose any sleep – or experience any tumultuous sleep – over this one. Continue reading “Unsavory Stigmas in The Visit”

Unsavory Stigmas in The Visit