Before writer/producer/director and (ahem) actor M Night Shyamalan torched his career with Lady in the Water, and stomped on the ashes with the non-event that was The Happening, he established himself as one of cinema’s most intriguing storytellers with this a trio of elegantly-structured tales.
In the intricately crafted, deeply affecting The Sixth Sense, a child psychologist (Bruce Willis) has a life-changing encounter with a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) cursed with the ability to see ghosts. That film’s global success allowed Shyamalan to make the commercially daring Unbreakable, in which Bruce Willis emerges unscathed from a horrific train wreck, only to find himself on a collision course with destiny, in the shape of a brittle-boned comic book dealer (Samuel L Jackson). With Signs, a worm’s-eye-view of an alien invasion starring Mel Gibson, Shyamalan stretched his snake-oil-salesman routine still further, asking audiences to believe, among other things, that crop circles are the work of alien invaders, rather than pranksters with planks. By the time he made his next film, the underrated The Village (not included here), the game was up: audiences were already looking for the twist – and found it wanting.
The nature of Shyamalan’s films – his house-of-cards structures, his everything-comes-together endings – suggests that they should lose their potency after a single viewing. That they are each, conversely, worthy of repeat viewings, is a testament to the strength of his storytelling gifts. HD adds little to The Sixth Sense, however, and although Signs’ cinematography and nerve-shredding sound are well represented, and Hi-def favours Unbreakable’s muted shades, those with the standard-def editions have little reason to upgrade.
EXTRAS: Shyamalan’s customary generosity with extras extends to deleted scenes, detailed ‘making of’ documentaries, and even early forays into filmmaking, with goofy 8mm treats from the fledgling filmmaker’s formative years.