Once again, we find ourselves watching Robert DeNiro in a low budget horror movie. How many times have we seen this in the last year or two? Probably too many times to count. Is he searching to be involved in the next Sixth Sense? As part of that strategy, ya think he gets back end money on these movies? No question.
For about 75 of this movie's 100 minutes, it's actually pretty good. And then... and then... it takes a turn for the cliche. The result of this movie is one of the oldest horror movie cliches in the book. The characters end up being a parody of a horror movie parody.
Now, let me take a second here to ask "What's up with Dakota Fanning"? This girl was 10 when the made this movie, but she seems like she's about 65. Her character is pretty freaky and effective, but frankly, I don't think it's that hard to help kids seem like they can act. If you want to make them spooky, have them whisper. If you want to make them seem intelligent, have them keep quiet. Shyamalan's direction of Haley Joel Osment is perfected evidence of these concepts -- whereas A.I., which required normal non-whispering speech, revealed Osment to be just another kid actor.
One of the most redeeming things in the movie is the location. Upstate New York in the late fall/early winter is one of the most beautiful locations -- I admit I have bias here. I spent a lot of time in that area and I have a lot of nostalgia for it. Anyway, they try to use this location to make the movie more creepy, which I don't think works very well.
Other Highlights: Elisabeth Shue and Famke Janssen
Rating: It's a mediocre Good, Bad(tm) movie -- only because of the first 75% of the movie. If you like the genre, it's worth watching on cable. I watched it on PPV and would want at least some of my $4 back.