Written by Luke Barnes
A township of people exist in fear of the creatures that live in the woods just outside of town.
Prior to watching I had heard very mixed things about this film, and after watching it I can say I am mixed. Do I think this film marks the start of Shyamalan’s journey into hackdom, with a brief moment of hope with Split? Yes, I would say so, all the elements that would come to form the basis of bad Shyamalan are present here, though it is not as egregious as it would get with his later works.
I think there are some good elements here, the premise is interesting and the world building is strong, couple this with good performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard and William Hurt and you can see the film has a lot going for it.
However, where everything is undercut is with the twist. I would say this is the first time in early Shyamalan’s work where the twist feels both needless, but also entirely predictable. The reveal that the elders were behind the monsters all along as a means to keep the town isolated from the rest of the world feels incredibly obvious from the early stages of the film. Moreover, though the climax of the film teases us with the outside world it then promptly does nothing with it and basically ignores it, which feels like a huge missed opportunity.
Overall, this film feels like a midway point in Shyamalan’s career, situated between past glories and future disappointments.
The world building
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