With much homage to Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan has contributed much to modern day suspense. Although his films are often found assigned to the horror genre, his films rarely evoke a sense of gore. Instead, in his best work, Shyamalan creates an opportunity for viewers to use their own imaginations to create intense suspense – something rare in the overly detailed, hyper realistic world of modern CGI filled cinema.
Watch “The Sixth Sense” and you’ll imagine much scarier situations than what is actually shown (see the scene where Cole is locked in a stairway closet by a couple of his bully classmates) and in “Unbreakable” viewers have to imagine what a horrific train wreck must have been like. In “Signs” we get mere glimpses of the alien (including viewer-contributed news footage and a startling reflection in the mirrored surface of a butcher knife) before the veiled reveal of the creature at the very end of the film.
You get the idea.
For class, we’ll watch a couple of Shyamalan works, analyze them and then look for his influences. Enjoy!
Here are some helpful links and the assignment sheets:
• “Unbreakable” at IMDB
• “The Sixth Sense” at IMDB
• “Signs” at IMDB