Preacher Graham Hess has lost his faith in God after his wife dies in a brutal car accident. He along with his son and daughter and his brother Merrill lives in a farmhouse. Crop circles begin to appear in their corn fields which Graham dismisses as mischief by miscreants.
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Shyamalan refines his early aesthetic (let's call it SpielBergman), where the surface of a Hollywood genre film is used to probe deeper questions relating to family, faith & forgiveness. In linking the extra-terrestrial with the existential, we get a blockbuster focused not on spectacle but on confinement & suggestion; a film where the aliens become a representation of the grief that threatens the family from within.
Remains my favorite Shyamalan film - to me, it's the perfect display of his ability as a storyteller to really create atmosphere. The plot may not advance much, but the sense of foreboding continues to ratchet up. And while most seem to hate the ending, the whole thing works for me.
Definitely one of the best from Shyamalan's career full of decent highs and horrible lows. A quirky, campy effort with a great cast that has some real tense atmosphere until the final act (as it always goes with this director). Honestly, even the first few times the aliens are revealed it doesn't lose it's charm - it's after the painfully dull climax in the living room where we get about 40 looks at the thing.
The atmosphere is buzzing and the audience is often left guessing what will happen next. The rural setting feels familiar but disconcerting, and Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson are great as the two brothers. I would have preferred a more ambiguous ending, but Shyamalan's ability to craft original and approachable films deserves more recognition.
Yes, the last 10 minutes feel a bit rushed, but, man: whatever happened to Shyamalan? This talented director that had a clear and precise understanding of suspense-building, a discreet but elegant camera work, interesting stories to tell, good actors to cast? There are flaws even in his best movies, but damn, were they well made and enjoyable to watch. Please, Mr Shyamalan: go back to your roots; you are good.
I don't care what anyone says, this is the best Shyamalan movie ever. I loved it to bits the first time I saw it and I love it even more now that I've watched it a million times.
Campy, endearing, funny. Yep. Love it.
I don't particularly care for how theistic this movie is. But I did recently read an interpretation that stated that the aliens were actual demons manifested from Rev. Graham's crisis of faith. It makes me want to give the film another look at least.