Movies

(Lady in the Water: Frank Masi)

If you’ve seen the teaser trailer for Lady in the Water, you probably scratched your head at the Italian opera music and the kid-friendly tagline: ”A bedtime storyâ?¦by M. Night Shyamalan.” Is this a joke? Is the pitch-black prankster behind The Sixth Sense and The Village going all soft on us? ”My name’s become an adjective for something scary, and I wanted to change that,” says Shyamalan. ”I wanted to take control of the expectations that come with my movies and play with them.”

From what little we know of Lady, there aren’t any dead people who don’t know they’re dead, no security guards with superpowers, no aliens invading the cellar, and the color red isn’t evil. Instead, we have Paul Giamatti as an apartment building superintendent who discovers a ”narf” (a kind of sea nymph, played by Bryce Dallas Howard) in the complex’s swimming pool. Shyamalan says the idea grew out of a tale he told his two daughters (now ages 6 and 9) while tucking them in at night. Beyond those few details, though, he’s pretty tight-lipped, except to say: ”My ultimate goal with the movie is to tell you a ridiculous bedtime story and have you believe it by the end.” Swell. But is there a big twist ending? Shyamalan says there isn’t. Or maybe he’s just messing with us again.

Originally posted April 20 2006 — 12:00 AM EDT

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