September 22, 2002; Galesburg Illinois: A recent viewing of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” at the Galesburg Multiplex was not enjoyed by a single person who saw the 7:35 show. What many have described as a “feel good” movie, had the opposite effect on this particular audience.
The movie was greatly anticipated by movie-goers and industry experts alike, after Shyamalan’s last two films proved to be big hits on the big screen. 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” even garnered Oscar nominations for the young writer/director/producer. 2001’s “Unbreakable” wasn’t as successful either with critics or box office intake, but it was still a hit for the 28 year old Wunderkind. However, if this audience’s reaction is any indication, Shyamalan’s latest release (his fourth movie in all) will not share its predecessors’ success. None of the sixteen people in the theater reported enjoying the picture, and almost each of them had different reasons for their disappointment.
“What a bunch of garbage,” was Peter Youngblood’s summation of the two-hour film. “I am so disappointed in Shalayminan [sic]. ‘Sixth Sense’ was increadible, and I defended him when many people said he’d lost it with ‘Unbreakable’. But now, after seeing this tripe,” Youngblood paused, shaking his head. “Well, he has lost it. This movie sucked.”
“I thought Shyamalan was an intelligent, young film-maker who could see beyond the typical hollywood bullshit,” Youngblood’s friend, Paul Egerton, added. “He still had some of his adept camera-work and entertaining dialogue [in ‘Signs’] and everything, but what was all that crap at the end? The message…the new-age, someone-is-watching-over-us-all message there at the end…” Egerton looked pensive for a moment as he struggled to find the right words to describe his dissatisfaction with the film. “I feel like I just got suckered into watching a propaganda film for the Mormon Church or something.”
“Yeah,” Youngblood agreed sullenly.
But Susan Kritchlow, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, contradicted Egerton’s statement, saying the movie had nothing to offer Christians either. “This movie is as godless as most Hollywood turns out,” the head of the Film Committee at Our Lady of Purdition and Pining said as she walked to her car. Kritchlow describes herself as “something of a movie expert” after six years of viewing movies at the local cinema to determine which ones will be banned for other parisioners and which ones are “okay for god-fearing folk”. “Shirlyman [sic] tried to fool good Christians with this movie by having the main character be a man of God, but it’s all blasphemy, pure and simple.” Elaborating, the fourty-seven year old divorce’ explained that any movie that claims there’s other intelligent life in the universe stands in direct oppostion to the Bible, “the Living Word,” as Kritchlow referred to the Christian Holy book.
“It started out okay and got better toward the middle,” Kathy Ingersoll, a thirty-seven-year-old single mother, commented blandly as she emerged from the theater. “But then it got all cheesy and…well…stupid. ‘ Sixth Sense’ had such a great twist at the end, and ‘Unbreakable’ had one, too, even though I didn’t like that movie much. But this ending was…well…stupid.” Thinking for a moment, Ingersoll added, “I’d say Nightshadelawn [sic] read The Celestine Prophecy and took it a little too seriously. Too bad.”
“I’m just sick to death of movies with precocious little kids who act like miniature adults,” daycare worker Betty Bradburry said disgustedly. “The kid in ‘Sixth Sense’ was okay, because he had a supernatural thing going on. But these kids in this movie are just so unrealistic. It’s like Jonathon Limpticki [sic] in ‘Jerry McQuire’. Kids aren’t like that in real life,” she added in exasperation. “Where are the films with hyperactive little terrors who make you want to tear your hair out? Where are the mvoies with kids who have great parents who try their damnest, yet the kids still turn out as little hellions?” At this, the rotund twenty-seven-year-old threw up her hands in disgust and huffed off toward her car. “Hollywood is so ridiculous.”
“I am very sorry to see Shyamalan cave in to the status quo of industry executives,” aspiring film critic Stewart “the Goatee” Garrett pontificated as he rolled a cigarette outside the multiplex. “I guess it happens to all great, new directors, though,” he sighed dramatically. “Look what happened to Terantino after ‘Pulp’. When I watched ‘Unbreakable’, I could tell Shyamalan was going downhill. It still was anti-authoritarian in nature and off-kilter from the Hollywood norm, but it just didn’t exude the same spirit and chemistry as ‘Sense’.” Lighting his cigarette and squinting his eyes sensitively, Garrett concluded, “this film seals the deal. Shyamalan is finished.”
Final thoughts on the movie were voiced by Tiffany Anderson, 19, a Freshman at nearby Knox College. “This movie was, like, so not-cool. I usually love anything with Mel Gibson in it, you know, but this…like…he didn’t even look good in it. I mean, his brother was cute and all, but he was acting geeky most of the time. And Mel…like, he looked fat almost. I’m going to have to go rent ‘Braveheart’ just to remind myself what a hottie he is.” As a fitting summation for a sparse audience that was, to a person, unsatisfied by the film, Tiffany closed by saying, “I definitely won’t see the sequal to that movie.”