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M. Night Shyamalan Prefers Quirky ‘Lady in the Water’ Over ‘Sixth Sense,’ Which Is Too Neat

Shyamalan said there's "a suit and tie quality" to "Sixth Sense" that he doesn't find too much of an affinity for.

"Lady in the Water"

“Lady in the Water”

Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

The Sixth Sense” will often top lists ranking M. Night Shyamalan’s best movies. The 1999 supernatural horror drama made a star out of Shyamalan, earning him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. “The Sixth Sense” was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor for Haley Joel Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Toni Collette. At the box office, it grossed just over $670 million on a $40 million production budget. And yet, “The Sixth Sense” is not the Shyamalan movie Shyamalan loves most.

Asked recently by GQ magazine to name “his favorites of his oeuvre,” Shyamalan answered, “The ones I have most affinity for are the ones that have maintained that quirky nature. ‘Unbreakable,’ and ‘Lady in the Water,’ and ‘The Visit,’ and this movie [‘Old’]…the ones that are poky.”

Some moviegoers might be surprised to hear Shyamalan prefers a film like “Lady in the Water” over “The Sixth Sense.” The 2006 release remains one of Shyamalan’s most critically-maligned movies. But Shyamalan told GQ that the quirkiness of “Lady in the Water” appeals to him more than the more-composed polish of “The Sixth Sense.”

As GQ reported: “What about ‘Sixth Sense’? We agree that there’s a decorum, a dignity to that movie, that makes it almost too neat — a ‘suit and tie quality,’ he offered. Whereas a film like ‘Lady in the Water’ does convey the weirdness, the poky appeal of Shyamalan himself.”

Discussing his new film “Old,” Shyamalan said it has a similar “poky” quality to the films of his he loves most in that “the edges aren’t rubbed off. I’ve been able to, especially in the photography and the casting and the balance between the tragedy and the oddness of it…it had enough breadth for me to be here and different.”

Similar to “Lady in the Water” and “The Village,” the box office-topping “Old” has fiercely divided critics and moviegoers. Shyamalan compared the polarizing reception of his work to a kid on the first day of school who dresses for his own tastes only to discover every other student is “wearing the exact same baggy sweatpants and a t-shirt. And you’re like, ‘Holy fuck. I see myself through their eyes.’ That’s a tough moment. That’s a tough moment. And that happens every single movie. I’m that kid who loves to get weirdly dressed and then I get to school and I’m like, ‘Uh-oh, I’m about to get my ass handed to me.’”

“Old” is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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