Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 36
  2. Negative: 14 out of 36
Watch On
  1. If the ultimate goal is entertainment, then Lady in the Water enthusiastically rises to the task. In a movie laden with enough symbolism, shamanism and mythic lore to make Joseph Campbell dance a tribal jig, Shyamalan never forgets to have fun.
  2. 63
    There is a good chunk of Lady in the Water that is simply too well made and affectingly acted to dismiss as a mere exercise in arrogance.
  3. Shyamalan does project genuine menace and suspense into this mundane location, especially in nighttime scenes. But the magic that would transport you from reality into fantasy is missing.
  4. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    There is much pleasure to be had watching a born storyteller juggle more balls than even he can carry.
  5. 58
    The man has gifts -- but acting and, it's increasingly clear, storytelling aren't among them.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    What's odd about Lady in the Water is that for all Shyamalan's histrionics, he's overcontrolled.
  7. Shyamalan's most alienating and self-absorbed project to date.
  8. Lady in the Water boasts an eclectic cast - almost entirely squandered.
  9. One of the more watchable films of the summer. A folly, true, but watchable.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The character played by lead Paul Giamatti is a dead-on Shyamalan protagonist: emotionally distanced and something of a train wreck.
  11. It's hard to think of a deadlier shotgun marriage than Jacques Tourneur's poetry of absence and Spielbergian uplift, but Shyamalan has patented the combo, adding pretentious camera movements that are peculiarly his own--even the jokes are pretty solemn.
  12. 50
    It lacks the simplicity and resonance of classic fairy tales: It's so muddled and belabored, it's hard to imagine the tykes ever staying awake long enough to hear how it all turned out.
  13. Lady, like all of Shyamalan's movies, is a slick production with consistently interesting visuals... But the story is so convoluted and ultimately preposterous that you're almost embarrassed by the earnestness of the actors trying to carry it off.
  14. Has the strengths and weaknesses of a one-man show.
  15. 50
    You leave Lady thinking there are still voices in Shyamalan's head well worth a listen.
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Unfortunately, this narf's a drag: she talks like a fortune cookie and doesn't really do anything. Still, the multicultural cast is fun, the images have a painterly beauty and there are some beguiling comic touches before the story sinks into a swamp of solemn metaphysical glop.
  17. 42
    Shockingly misconceived, poorly executed effort.
  18. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    A ponderous, self-indulgent bedtime tale. Awkwardly positioned, this gloomy gothic fantasy falls well short of horror.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Lady doesn't work. Although he detonates a few terrific frissons involving the scrunt, the stabs at comedy are lurching and arrant. The spreading of tension from one character to many dilutes the mood. The would-be rapturous Spielbergian ending is on the wussy side.
  20. 40
    There are moments of great beauty throughout (the film was lensed by Wong Kar-Wai cinematographer Christopher Doyle), and Shyamalan's heart is nowhere if not on his sleeve, but even these moments cannot steer Lady in the Water clear of its director's zealously over-earnest pretensions.
  21. 40
    Lady in the Water feels very much like something its author made up as he went along; and, if it weren't so damn weird, it would most certainly put you right to sleep.
  22. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    I will hold against him (Shyamalan) that Lady in the Water isn't scary, that its own inner logic breaks down at countless points along the way, and that its ending is disappointingly literal and just plain stupid. Lady in the Water is, however, funny at times, even intentionally so.
  23. 38
    This is sloppy filmmaking, and it's likely to wipe away whatever luster still remains to Shyamalan's reputation.
  24. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    The film is a rogue hunk of hooey.
  25. 38
    The result is a soggy swamp of nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyahing, its only grace notes are Giamatti's fine, nuanced performance as Heep and Christopher Doyle's handsome cinematography.
  26. This isn't nitpicking. Every bit of the tale is as full of holes as a wool sweater at a moth convention, and Shyamalan telegraphs each potential surprise.
  27. 33
    If you're not a fan of M. Night Shyamalan's convoluted, teasing thrillers, you'll find that getting into this movie is like cracking a puzzle in which the constructor keeps breaking his own rules or grabbing new ones from ultra-thin air.
  28. 30
    There is something bizarrely compelling about the movie. It's slower than watching a train wreck but invokes that same level of disbelief.
  29. 30
    Challenges us to believe in the power of myth. But the big challenge here is surviving the tedium of Shyamalan's meandering inventiveness. What's supposed to be fanciful storytelling is really just audience punishment.
  30. 30
    Lady is more of an ensemble picture, and truly the Cove is the most ethnically diverse and community-minded apartment complex in the continental United States.
  31. I suspect audiences will see Shyamalan's portentous doodle for what it is - the height of arrogance and a bad night out at the movies.
  32. It comes off as tedious, pretentious, self-indulgent, talky and so garbled it might have been improvised by the actors.
  33. 25
    A charmless, unscary, fatuous and largely incoherent fairy tale.
  34. Crazy as this might sound, it turns out that self-indulgent ramblings designed to put your children to sleep are pretty much the opposite of art.
  35. It's as if on some semiconscious level, Shyamalan, who I do not doubt is a serious and self-serious pop-creative original, is calling his own success into question and daring his audience to gulp down larger and spikier clusters of manure, just to see if they will. Or he's lost his mind.
  36. This cloying piece of claptrap sets a high-water mark for pomposity, condescension, false profundity and true turgidity -- no small accomplishment for the man whose last two features were the deadly duo "Signs" and "The Village."
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 384 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 215
  1. HarvG.
    Oct 19, 2009
    Weird, all the negative reviews. I had a knot in my throat several times in the movie. I can totally understand why someone wouldn't Weird, all the negative reviews. I had a knot in my throat several times in the movie. I can totally understand why someone wouldn't like this movie, but to say M.N.S. can't tell a story is wrong. Full Review »
  2. ShereefE.
    May 8, 2007
    I believe the people reviewing this movie are too sick to understand the truthness of Night's movies. You all seem to judge Night's I believe the people reviewing this movie are too sick to understand the truthness of Night's movies. You all seem to judge Night's movies on the basis of them being Horror movies. BUT THEY ARE NOT HORROR MOVIES!! As some, who may sometimes be able to open their minds to new ideas, may have noticed, all of his films relate to a certain important topic on life: such as religion, self-hate, self-ignorance, society and it's corruption on people, and even politics. If one just looks at the trailer, thinking that Night takes on the Horror genre at full, and runs to watch a movie they hope will present headless ghouls, bloody beasts, gruesome monsters and all the like (IMO this type of horror film is disgusting, and it has evolved in the last 10 years devastatingly, perhaps to keep the people's minds off what is truly horrible in this world), it is only normal that they will be dissapointed. However, if one goes into the Theatre with a clear conscience on his mind, he will soon realise the pureness of the film. This review is not only for The VIllage, but also for all the other Night movies that I feel were undoubtedly underrated, such as The VIllage or Signs. Some people are unable to understand that Night does not undertake the Horror genre as his dominating genre, he simply uses it to spice up his film and make it slightly more enticing and eye-grabbing for the people. And again, one must always remember that the horror genre has moved to heights that were before unimaginable. So to compre Night's horror with these new horrors would be to compare something non-comparable. That is all I have to say. I hope you will take this review seriously, and remember that I am not writing this review in hate towards the mainstream reviews, but simply in anger towards how they rate such movies that do not comply to one genre alone. Peace to you all. Full Review »
  3. RandallP.
    Sep 1, 2006
    M. Night Shymalan, achieves old world mythic reverence for the unknown... in the most mundane of urban settings. The film contrasts what we M. Night Shymalan, achieves old world mythic reverence for the unknown... in the most mundane of urban settings. The film contrasts what we know with what we feel... or at least used to feel .. towards the shadows and noises that disturb us at night. This isn't meant to be shlock horror.. it is meant to be dark fantasy.. the way the old world feared fairy ringy and dopplegangers... Has our sense of wonder been so eroded that we trash even the exploration of this theme? Full Review »