Night Shyamalan

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5.6 Wide Awake (1998)
6.8 Sixth Sense (1999)
6.9 Unbreakable (2000)
6.6 Signs (2002)
6.0 The Village (2004)
6.8 Lady in the Water (2006)
6.0 The Happening (2008)
5.8 The Last Airbender (2010)
5.0 After Earth (2013)
6.8 The Visit (2015)
7.0 Split (2016)
6.9 Glass (2019)
6.0 Old (2021)
6.6 Knock at the Cabin (2023)

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Manoj Nelliyattu "M. Night" Shyamalan (USA, 1970)

Praying with Anger (1993)

Wide Awake (1998)

Sixth Sense (1999) is a horror thriller and a metaphysical puzzle with a happy ending, although sabotaged by an implausible script.

Il film comincia con lo psicologo di successo Malcolm, premiato per la sua opera sui bambini, e sua moglie Anna che si baciano felici, ma qualcuno e` entrato in casa: e` un pazzo seminudo, Vincent, un paziente di Malcolm, che accusa il dottore di aver fallito, si suicida e gli spara. Malcolm giace ferito gravemente, e perde sangue.
Misteriosamente risanato, mesi dopo Malcolm ha un nuovo incarico. L'incidente ha avuto ripercussioni psicologiche: Malcolm si sente in colpa di aver fallito con Vincent, e la sua vita emotiva non si e` mai ripresa, tanto da distruggere il suo matrimonio. Per redimersi ai propri occhi, Malcolm decide di prendersi cura di un bambino intrattabile, Cole, che i compagni di scuola prendono in giro. A una festa di compleanno Cole rimane chiuso in un closet, gridando come un ossesso. La mamma lo porta in ospedale ma in ospedale sono solo interessati alle ferite che ha sulle braccia, e sospettano che sia stata lei a fargliele. Malcolm riesce a guadagnarsi la fiducia del bambino quando gli confessa che lui era felice e orgoglioso prima del suicidio di quel paziente. Da allora si sente un fallito e il suo matrimonio sta fallendo. Adesso e` Cole la sua speranza di redimersi. Il bambino gli rivela allora il suo terribile segreto: e` capace di vedere e sentire i morti, tanti, sempre, dappertutto. La scuola, per esempio, e` piena di corpi impiccati perche' fu un tribunale. Il dottore sta per rinunciare all'incarico ma il bambino lo implora di aiutarlo. Il dottore allora capisce che il modo di guarire e` di ascoltare i morti invece di averne paura: loro hanno bisogno di aiuto. Il bambino parla con una bambina durante il suo funerale e la bambina gli chiede di portare al padre un videonastro in cui si vede la madre avvelenarla.
L'accorgimento funziona e il bambino sembra guarire. Un giorno rivela il segreto anche alla madre, portandole un messaggio dalla nonna che nessuno potrebbe inventare: e` una cosa che solo lei sapeva.
Nel frattempo la relazione di Malcolm con la moglie naufraga, e Malcolm puo` soltanto nutrire gelosia per l'uomo che la moglie frequenta. Malcolm, avendo ottenuto il successo che cercava per redimersi, torna dalla moglie. La trova addormentata. Lei ha il proprio anello al dito. Un altro anello e` sul tavolo, quello di Malcolm. Malcolm si rende allora conto della verita`: lui e` uno dei morti che parlano a Cole. Malcolm mori` della ferita inflittagli da Vincent. Adesso Malcolm capisce che lui e` uno di quei morti che hanno bisogno di Cole per trovare la pace. Avendo guarito Cole, adesso e` pronto ad andarsene per sempre. Dice le ultime parole romantiche alla moglie che sta dormendo, e lei gli augura la buona notte.

Unbreakable (2000)

Signs (2002)

The Village (2004) is an implausible fairy tale.

A 19th century village has long lived in seclusion believing that evil creatures dwell in the surrounding woods and would punish the village if anyone attempted to leave. A young man, Lucius, is determined to try, despite the fact that his own father died in trying. He believes that the spirits will understand he means no harm (he simply wants to get some essential medicines for the village). He refuses the love of a wonderful girl because it would interfere with his mission. Her sister Ivy, a blind girl, is the only person who supports him. Whenever the creatures enter the village, all the inhabitants take refuge in underground shelters. They listen in terror to the loud steps and catch glimpses of the red hoods wandering in the streets ("those we can't speak of"). Lucius understands he is the cause of their latest visit. Ivy and Lucius fall in love. The fool of the village, who was fond of Ivy, knives Lucius, who lies between life and death. Ivy decides to go to the city and look for medicines, despite the fact that she is blind. She takes off and is soon abandoned by the kids who were supposed to protect her. Nonetheless she continues (and mysteriously finds the right direction in a wood that she has never entered before!). At home, her father confesses that the elders created the spirits (the red hoods and the loud steps) because they wanted to protect the village from the evil influence of the city: the village was created by people who suffered terrible losses. (He sent his own blind daughter in the forest knowing that the whole thing is a fake?) Ivy meets one of the spirits (red hood and everything). She is terrified but manages to outsmart the evil spirit (who falls into a hole and dies). Back to the village, we see that the fool has escaped and stolen the costumes that the elderly use to scare the village (the fool knew the truth?) So the monster chasing Ivy was only the fool obsessed with her, determined to bring her back. She continues and eventually reaches the city. A ranger sees her (it turns out the village is located inside a protected park) and helps her get the medicines she needs (thus the film is not seet in the past: only the village lives in the past). But he seems to fall in love with her and also gives her a transmitter that she unknowingly carries back to the village. Back home the elders reminisce how they decided to leave the city and all its evils and found a community in an imaginary past. Ivy makes it back to the village, but Lucius has already died. The elder have decided to tell the village that he was killed by the creatures (Ivy is still unaware that he was all a charade, since she believes that a monster chased her in the woods). But the ranger has given her a transmitter than can help locate the village...

Lady in the Water (2006)

Cleveland is the stuttering manager of an apartment complex who lives an awful life. One day a middle-aged movie critic moves in. Cleveland has been puzzled for days because someone has been using the pool at night. This time Cleveland catches the intruder. It is someone who can stay underwater a long time and pulls Cleveland underwater. He wakes up in a room, watched by a young fairy. Her name is Story and she is scared because a monster wants to kill her. A young sexy tenant tells him that the story is a bedtime story for children, that she learned from her Chinese mother: the fairy is meant to meet someone, and she knows that it is a writer, but the monster wants to kill her before that happens. Cleveland finds a young tenant who is writing a book and introduces them, hoping that he is the right one. The sexy girl's mom tells Cleveland that only three beings that live in trees can protect the fairy from the beast. The bedtime story is actually about a cosmic battle between good and evil. Little by little the Chinese lady tells Cleveland the whole story, and Cleveland decides that Story's story is very important for humankind. She needs the help of three humans, and Cleveland goes out of his way to find them within his building. Cleveland's own secret is that his entire family was killed. He is maybe trying to redeem himself by saving the fairy and therefore the whole of humanity. The fairy is nonetheless attacked and seems dead. The dog eats the movie critic who references "Ghostbusters". The entire population of tenants cooperates with Cleveland to solve the riddle, even a child. They manage to defeat the evil beast and bring Story back to life. The cosmic battle consumes itself in front of them.

The Happening (2008)

The Last Airbender (2010)

sci-fi After Earth (2013)

horror The Visit (2015)

The psychological thriller Split (2016) first focuses on the multiple personalities of a madman and then shifts its focus on the close affinities between persecutor and victim (they are both abused children, two sides of the same coin, two personalities resulting from the same tragedy). There isn't much suspense though. The film is rather a morbid intellectual game.

A girl, Claire, has invited her entire art class to her birthday party and couldn't avoid inviting also the introverted Casey whom nobody likes and who is often sent to detection. There are also rumors that she tried to run away from home several times. The introverted girl wants to take the bus home, but Claire's father insists on giving her a ride. Claire, her best friend Marcia and Casey get in the car while Claire's father is packing their belongings in the trunk of the car. We see the dad looking behind him at someone. Casey sees in the rear mirror that some of the luggage is spread on the asphalt. Then another man walks into the car and the upset girl sees him wear a mask and grab a bottle. He sprays a sleeping gas on the two girls in the back seat. The upset girl is terrified and grabs the handle of the door to escape but the man turns on her. Casey wakes up and realizes that she and two other girls have been locked in a room. A man, whose name seems to be Dennis, walks inside and picks one of the girl. He takes her to another room but the girl bites him and he throws her back into the room. A flashback shows two adults eating at a table with Casey as a child. A woman walks into her apartment and hears of the three girls who have been kidnapped. Claire and Marcia are ready to fight the man but Casey is reluctant. A flashack shows when the father and the uncle took the child to hunting. The kidnapper, now called Harry, comes to visit the woman. He is a client of hers with a rare disorder. She has even been invited to give a university lecture about his case. He claims that he is doing better but she senses that something happened. The man returns to the three girls who hear that there is a woman with him. They scream and the woman opens the door: it is the man, dressed like a woman, and now called Patricia. The psychologist talks to a colleague about her theory of patients with split personality. The kidnapper returns to the three girls and cryptically tells them that they are sacred food. Casey wakes up and finds the man changed again into somebody else warning them that an evil person is coming to visit them: the beast. Casey plays psychologist with him. The girls understand that there is a way to escape. They make a hole in the ceiling and Claire climbs inside a narrow space. He chases her and hides inside acabinet but he finds her. The kidnapper separates Claire from the other two. He shows up again unexpectedly at the psychologist's home. She senses that she is not talking to the usual Harry, the one who revealed to her all the 23 personalities of Kevin. She guesses correctly that she is talking with Dennis, the one who likes to watch girls dance naked. She knows that Kevin was the victim of child abuse. Another flashback shows the child staring speechless at the animal that her father killed. Another of the girls tries to escape after hitting the man with a chair, but she is easily captured. Casey is now alone. Harry comes to see her and asks to kiss her. He does so like a virgin who doesn't really know how. She tells him that she likes detention at school because she wants to be alone. Harry asks for another urgent appointment with the psychologist. She guesses that she is talking to Dennis. She knows that Dennis and Patricia tell about a "beast" to the other personalities. He has talked about the beast also to the girls. He finally admits that he is Dennis. She tries to convince him that the best is just fantasy, not a 24th personality. Harry takes Casey to his room and shows her how he dances to his favorite electronic music. He realizes that she wanted to visit his room only because she was hoping to escape from the window: she is heart-broken when she sees that his window is merely painted on the wall. But she gets hold of the man's walkie-talkie and screams for help. He calmly takes away the walkie-talkie from her and takes her back to her room. Then it turns into Dennis, who explains that the beast represents a new stage of human evolution. A flashback shows Casey grabbing a gun and pointing it at her uncle as if she really wanted to kill him. The psychologist receives another email in the middle of the night and takes a taxi to the place where the man resides and confronts him. Dennis wants to tell her about what Kevin's mother did to him. He tells her that he has seen the beast. The beast really exists. The beast has superpowers. The beast embodies what the psychologist has always claimed: that people with split personalities have special powers. Now she is scared. She finds one of the girls, exhausted, lying on the floor of a room. He sprays the sleeping gas on the psychologist. The three girls are kept in three separate rooms but can hear each other. Dennis goes out and changes into the beast: a strong acrobatic being. Two security guards see him running and think it's a coyote. The beast returns home, where the three girls are desperately trying to open their doors and the psychologist just woke up. The beast hugs the psychologist and literally crushes her bones, indifferent that she is stabbing him with a knife. Casey manages to leave her room but finds that the beast is literally eating her friends Claire. She finds something that the psychologist scribbled on a piece of paper. The beast appear: he can climb walls like a spider. She shouts the words: Kevin's real name. The man is reminded of his child abuse and breaks down. All personalities burst out: one begs her to kill him, but others take turn speaking to her. She follows the instructions of the first one and finds a gun. The man has turned into the beast again and bites her leg. A flashback shows her at her father's funeral, her uncle whispering that he will take care of her. She locks herself in an animal cage. She aims the gun at the beast. He survives two shots. He bend the metal bars that protect her. But then he sees the scars on her belly, signs of abuse, presumably by her uncle. He stops, smiles, calls her "pure" (presumably because she like him has been abused) and leaves. She is finally rescued: now we see that she was kept in the basement of a zoo. But when a police officer tells her that her uncle has arrived, she stares speechless and doesn't reply, clearly not happy, delivered from one monster to another monster. In a restaurant the patrons are listening on television to the story of the madman who seems to have adopted the personalities of all the animals of the zoo. The man cannot be found. Someone in the restaurant comments that this case is similar to an old case. The man sitting at the counter knows (played by Bruce Willis, the actor who played David in Unbreakable).

The superhero movie Glass (2019) concludes the "Unbreakable" trilogy.

Old (2021) is an adaptation of Pierre Oscar Levy's and Frederik Peeters' graphic novel "Sandcastle".

Knock at the Cabin (2023) was an adaptation of Paul Tremblay's novel "The Cabin at the End of the World" (2018).

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