Well written atmospheric movie with strong dialogue and one of the better young actors to have graced the screen in one of the better atmospheric horror dramas in modern time. Ruined somewhat by a "surprising twist" that "everyone talked about" but that I managed to predict at once sadly. Still, it is so well put together that it still fascinates and pull a punch.
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