There is some brilliant storytelling here, I think Shyamalan was the first one whom I heard talk and I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life. Symbolically, what does Cole represent? The human condition? A philosophy that each of us has spectres that we deal with, that our peers would shriek in terror from if their presence were made known.
There is a common narrative that M. Night Shyamalan is a formerly great director who somewhere down the line became a bad one. This is only half true. He always leaned towards bad. For my taste, this movie (not Unbreakable) is the best movie he's ever made, and it was thoroughly mediocre. No greatness in his past, and certainly none in his future.
Still impressive after seeing it many years ago, chilling and moving. Fujimoto's camerawork is genius by the way you see it and the performances by the cast are brilliant & fit in the storytelling. I would say Shyamalan did do some good thrillers then (SIGNS, THE VILLAGE, and THE HAPPENING), this would mark the best effort from him. 5/5
15 years later, it turns out this still holds up! But this movie is famous for the wrong reasons. It's not great because of the great twist or because it's super spooky; no, it's great because of its powerful portrayal of a very disturbed child and his anguished mother. Mom and son both give astounding, devastating performances. Their relationship is the heart of a deeply affecting story. I give this one an A-!