You may have liked M. Night Shyamalan's previous work in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and/or The Village. You may think that because of this, you should give his latest flick Lady in the Water a chance, even though you have heard bad reviews about it.
Trust me here – this is one to pass on. My wife and I finished watching it last night, and as the credits rolled, we turned to each other and both said, "That was REALLY bad. I can't believe I wasted 2 hours of my life watching that."
The premise is simple – a live-in superintendent of a motel (Paul Giamatti) discovers a woman swimming in the motel pool and subsequently is saved by her after he slips, hits his head, and falls into the water. As the movie progresses, he discovers this woman (named "Story") is actually a creature called a "Narf" out of an old bedtime story/fairy tale. She has come to our world to "awaken" a chosen human being (played by Shyamalan) before she can be carried back to the "Blue World" by a giant eagle, all while avoiding a creature called a "Scrunt" (basically a big-ass wolf made out of grass) who is trying to kill her.
After the movie was over and my mind finally got past the point of only being able to think "WTF?!?", I came to some basic conclusions about what made this movie so bad.
- The symbolism/coincidences from Signs that "gave people chills" have been re-purposed here in new forms for another story. Every odd quirk or behavior has a reason behind it. Most are blatantly obvious, but all fall flat and don't add anything to the plot as it moves along – they are there solely to provide a deus-ex type feel to a scenario later in the movie.
- The fairy tale/bedtime story plot is laughably bad, as is the exposition of it through the film. Giamatti ekes out the storyline as the movie progresses, only learning enough at one time to carry him through the next scene. When he gets stuck, it's a sure bet someone will come around the corner with some "I found out more about that bedtime story!" dialog.
- People act contrary to human nature. When Giamatti reveals what is going on to a group of people, they immediately believe him and tag along to take part in the action. No explanation or disbelief is ever expressed until near the very end. This could have been a much better film if the main conflict was Giamatti getting a group of chosen individuals to believe what was going on, rather than having them initially accept his story and pushing the conflict to an "us vs. them" mentality.
- The film can't make up its mind as to what it is supposed to be. There are scenes intended to be humorous, tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at the plot of the movie itself. Other scenes try to make you jump in fright, using scare tactics and sharp scene cuts to try to keep you on the edge of your seat. All that happens is you end up with a film that feels pieced together, with enough expository dialog to fill in the holes the actors can't fill in their scenes.
I will still give Shyamalan a chance on future films, but in my opinion, there's nothing redeeming about this movie. If what I've said above hasn't been enough to disuade you, good luck with your viewing, and don't say I didn't warn you.