With the success of The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan joined the ranks of Hollywood's hottest directors. Now, he's back with a new supernatural thriller.
In Signs, opening Friday, Mel Gibson plays a disillusioned minister who suddenly finds crop circles — a signal to many that space aliens are about to threaten humanity.
But Signs is much more than an update of H.G. Well's War of the Worlds, just as Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense is much more than a ghost story. He's a gifted storyteller who creates layered characters and piercing dialogue.
If Shyamalan stopped making films today, the scene from The Sixth Sense where the disturbed little boy says, "I see dead people" will forever be etched in movie lovers' minds.
Correspondent Terry Moran asked Shayamalan what it's like to make such a contribution to America's collective consciousness in an interview Wednesday. Here is an excerpt:
M. Night: I've written other things besides that one line. But isn't it great that everyone knows it? It's cool. Definitely. I see it on T-shirts.
Terry: What do you think when you see yourself on the cover of Newsweek as the next [Steven] Spielberg?
M. Night: I didn't … Somebody called me and said they put you on the cover. So we're searching and finally found it on the stand with my little girls. They started screaming when they saw me on the cover. I think they think everyone's dad is on the cover of a magazine. It's cool. We bought a whole bunch of them.
Terry: We keep saying it's scary but there's real tenderness in this movie and it focuses on the children, as did The Sixth Sense. Why is that?
M. Night: I don't know. I guess my take on this stuff is the fear is not just to make scares, but to kind of open you up emotionally. So you can have a real cathartic experience. You laugh and you cry in the movie, you know? When we screen the movie, people are all crying after they've screamed and then they scream and tears are still running down —
Terry: We have to draw on your expertise here as the director of these movies and one of the judges in your scary movie contest. What are your favorite scary scenes?
M. Night: Well I suppose there are a lot of them. I suppose from when I was a kid. One, from The Omen, was a birthday party where it was so innocent and everybody's kind of, you know, blowing out the candles and all that stuff. All of a sudden, the nanny screams for the child and says, look over here, this is for you. It's just really awful and then she goes and hangs herself at this birthday party. And everybody starts screaming and the little child's watching there and it's so traumatic because you're completely innocent at that moment with the children and then all of a sudden this woman is like, "Damian!"
Terry: That's for sure. Thank you very much for joining us.