So, I finally rented and watched Signs, the uber-freaky, scary, funny, thoroughly enjoyable, “make my heart beat really really fast and make me keep looking behind me to make sure the door is closed and aliens aren’t going to grab me” movie.
Holy smokes. What a great movie.
First, I had gone into the movie thinking that surely, something other than aliens would be the explanation of the crop-circles, but I was obviously wrong. And I LOVE how the movie was completely unapologetic about this. From the first glimpse of the shadowy clearly-alien figure on the roof of the house, the movie made it very clear about what was coming. The brilliant part of it all was that that only made things worse. =:)
I have many times made the exact same complaint about modern horror movies that M. Night Shyamalan made in one of the DVD featurettes–that the tactics employed by the “modern” movie-makers pale in comparison with those perfected by Hitchcock. The earliest, best example that I can think of for this is John Carpenter’s The Thing. Absolutely nothing was left to the imagination with this movie. It was bloody, gruesome, disgusting, gory, and absolutely, disturbingly over-graphic. I still have nightmares from the horrid thing (no pun intended) from when my Dad made the really stupid mistake of letting me watch it. This style of movie-making seeks to scare the crap out of its audience with the premise that those making the movies know better than their audience as to what will scare them, and the problem with that is they have to make the graphic violence so extreme to be sure that they scare everyone. On the other hand, what Hitchcock realized (and I thoroughly applaud Shyamalan for realizing this too) was that by allowing the audience to think, feel, react, anticipate, and use their imaginations, they were also allowed to have a much deeper experience because they were placed into the movie with the characters.
Brilliant. And absolutely accurate, at least for me.
And the biggest difference for me is this: I have always walked away from movies that show over-the-top graphic violence, gore, and un-natural bodily damage grossed out, seriously bothered, deeply disturbed, and hating the experience. But I walk away from Signs fully satisfied. I was absolutely freaked out. My heart was racing. Several times I almost turned the movie off and went to bed (I am a true moron for watching this right before bed!!!). My heart was racing so much in spots that I could barely keep seated. But. I was also absorbed into the movie–and I was treated like an intelligent person by M. Night Shyamalan. He didn’t try to cram ultra-violence down my throat. It was an incredible, electrifying ride–thoroughly well-done. I whole-heartedly congratulate Shyamalan on a job most-excellently well-done. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and what-not.
Hopefully some of that makes sense.