This is a movie that is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. While I don’t like every movie he has made, I find that I like the majority of them. This one is no exception. He has such a great feel for how to shoot scenes to reflect a particular mood and also how to use interesting camera angles to his advantage. He is also very good at building suspense. I think M. Night excels at showing the human side of a story, even when something otherworldly is happening. The focus is on how people deal with the situation, not so much on the situation itself.
Graham (Mel Gibson) is a former Reverend, who lives on a farm, in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. He is raising his two young children Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) with the help of his brother (Joaquin Phoenix). There is an element of sadness surrounding the family and it takes awhile before we find out the whole story about why that is.
Things take a turn for the bizarre for the family when a crop circle mysteriously appears in their cornfield. At first they suspect some of the local guys have played a prank on them. However, then they discover that large quantities of crop circles are popping up all around the world. This is when talk of “aliens” begins.
All of the main actors did a fantastic job. They worked together well and felt like a real family. Abigail is absolutely adorable in this movie. She was so young (about 5 or 6) but was terrific at delivering her lines. Joaquin had some of the best bits in the movie and he really sold them.
Some of my favorite scenes (without being too spoilery):
The scene when the family arrives home from town and the baby monitor that Morgan is using as a walkie-talkie starts picking up something is great. I like how Merrill goes on this whole rant about how the crop circle stuff is done by nerds. Then just a couple of minutes later he does a quick about face and starts getting sucked into Morgan’s theory. The visual of all of them on top of the car trying to get better reception with the baby monitor is wonderful.
I absolutely love the part when Merrill is watching the TV by himself, closed in the closet. Both his talking to the people on the screen and his reaction to what he sees. Joaquin did a phenomenal job with the scene.
Ok, I have to mention Merrill, Bo and Morgan all sitting on the sofa with foil hats on (the shape of which resembles a Hershey’s Kiss) so the aliens can’t read their minds. They were so cute (in a silly sort of way). I have no idea how Joaquin ever made it through that scene with a straight face.
Some of my favorite quotes:
Graham – “What’s the matter?”
Bo – “There’s a monster outside my room. Can I have a glass of water?”
Bo – “It’s contaminated.”
Morgan – “You don’t even know what that word means.”
Graham – “Explain “act crazy”.”
Merrill – “You know, curse and stuff.”
Graham – “You want me to curse?”
Merrill – “You don’t mean it. It’s just for show.”
Graham – “This one?”
Bo – “Morgan took a sip and it has his amebas in it.”
Merrill – “Excluding the possibility that a female Scandinavian Olympian was running around outside our house last night, what else might be a possibility?”
Merrill – “Morgan, this crop stuff is about a bunch of nerds who never had a girlfriend in their lives. —— They do stupid crap like this to feel special.”
Bo – “Why can’t they get girlfriends?”
Graham – “See this is why we’re not watching TV. People get obsessed.”
Graham – “Isabel, you’re gonna feel very silly when this turns out to be all just make-believe.” (Just so you know, Isabel is a dog.)
Merrill – “Move children! Vamanos!” (FYI, he’s talking to kids shown on TV).
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
When Graham is in the cornfield, at night, by himself and we get a first glimpse of an alien, albeit just part of a leg, it gave me a shiver. The shot was beautifully filmed and really built the suspense well.
I liked how the ceiling light was broken during the basement scene, which forced them to use flashlights instead. The beam from the flashlight created a wonderfully eerie feel, which was perfect for the scene.
I loved the visual at the end when Merrill is swinging the baseball bat to knock over the water glasses. We see it through Bo’s eyes as she peers in through the window. It’s so appropriate that Bo is the one to be watching, since her glasses of water left all over the house, ended up being a life saver.