The How and Why of Scary Movies

Shyamalan says there is a scene in The Village that was so scary that it would have earned the entire film an R rating. He changed one piece of sound — of something that wasn't even happening on screen — and it made the film suitable for a PG-13 rating.

He wouldn't say what the sound was. When asked if it was the sound of bones crunching, he said only: "You're close."

Mundane to the Macabre

Shyamalan doesn't think he's a sick and twisted individual. "Actually, I'm very boring and normal," he said.

In fact, the most gifted directors find the heart of our fears in the intersection of the humdrum and horrible. That's exactly the mix of elements in Alfred Hitchcock's horror classic Psycho — and Weaver is a huge fan.

"I love it when directors tell stories about situations we've all been in," she said. "This woman is in a horrible driving rain storm. She finally sees a motel that is a little lit up. And thank God she gets there, and the guy is nice, and they have a meal, and what could go wrong? And then out of nowhere … "

In one of the most famous horror scenes of all time, an unseen attacker slashes repeatedly at the woman as she takes a shower.

This move from the mundane to the macabre also happens in Jaws, a Shyamalan favorite.

He describes a scene where beachgoers are relaxing on an ordinary summer Sunday and the sheriff, played by Roy Scheider, is scanning the water for signs of trouble.

One of the beachgoers is throwing a stick to his dog, calling out the dog's name, Pippen. There are screams — but they are from delighted children playing. A boy lifts his girlfriend out of the water on his shoulders.

"The audience starts to get paranoid about Roy and what he's thinking," Shyamalan said. "Suddenly you just cut to the beginning of the real stuff, which is the guy that you started with. He goes 'Pippen, Pippen' — and he can't find his dog, and that's it."

"Now we're going to get serious," Shyamalan says — because after all the red herrings, all the false alarm. and the built-up tension, the shark soon appears. "It's really just brilliant."

"I watched the scene and then I said 'I'm never going to make movies this good. It was perfect," he said.

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