the_narrator’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't throw words like "masterpiece" around willy-nilly to describe much-maligned disasters that are actually great, but this is the masterpieciest masterpiece to ever graduate from Masterpiece University.
But seriously, this movie is great. I get why Disney advertised this as a horror-thriller (the back of the box calls it one of the great psychological thrillers, when this is not a psychological thriller by even the most lenient definition of the term), but really, while Shyamalan creates some superbly suspenseful sequences (it's amazing how he went from this to the slack, boring Lady in the Water, it's like his directorial chops got left at the cleaners on that movie), more than a horror movie with a twist ending you won't see coming, this is a profoundly moving romance with a twist that only adds an extra layer of sadness and tragedy to the proceeding. There are so many parts of the end (the descriptions of why everyone joined the village, the kindness of the preserve guard, Ivy's heartbreaking openness, every note of James Newton Howard's score) that brought me close to tears that even if I found the twist as stupid as everyone else does, I could not hate this movie like I've seen so many do. More than some scattered defenders, this needs a full-scale reappraisal by everyone, or, at the very least, it needs to stop being included with the junk Shyamalan has made since.
You expected me to end this without talking about Roger Deakins? Have you been paying any attention? But anyway, Deakins' work is typically superb here, with the many lantern-lit night scenes looking utterly ravishing in particular. And I love how carefully-framed the gag of Shyamalan's cameo is.