LADY IN THE WATERNOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Lefty.
The movie starts out with a brief introduction to the story. You see caveman style drawings, and there is a Native American narrator. He says that long ago, the sea people lived with the humans, and taught them and guided them. However, humans wanted more land and moved away from the sea. The humans forgot about the sea people, and lost their guides to the world. This led to war, violence, grief, etc. Soon, the sea people stopped trying to communicate with the humans. Occasionally though, the sea people try to re-establish communication. All the humans have to do is see one of the sea people, but the humans have stopped looking, and forgotten how to listen. The sea people are sending their youngest/newest generation now to try to re-establish the relationship with the humans. However, there is an enemy. [The cave picture shows a large wolf/boar like animal.] This enemy attacks the sea people, and many never return. [End of intro]
PREVIEW - Lady in the Water
Next, we see Cleveland moving in a new tenant. We meet several of the residence. We have already the met the Hispanic family with several daughters. We meet the stoners; about five guys who just sit around and smoke. We meet one tenant who always has his door open, but will not respond to Cleveland in anyway besides staring at him. We meet another guy who constantly works out one side of his body, leaving the other side very scrawny. I think we meet the Indian (from the continent of India) couple, but it turns out they are just brother and sister who live together. The guy is M. Night Shyamalan. We meet a lady who keeps telling Cleveland things about her husband's health problems (or secrets. You could call him a man with no secrets). We meet a young (about 20) Asian girl who dresses provocatively and takes classes at some school. We find out that the new tenant is a movie critic. We also learn that someone is swimming in the pool late at night, as Cleveland asks some of the tenants if it was them.
Next, we see Cleveland talking with a pool guy. He accuses of Cleveland of having late night parties, because something is making the water slimy (he might have said slippery). Either way, something changes the water. The pool guy said he was there yesterday and cleaned out the filter, and now, a big clump of a girl's red hair (I thought it was girl's hair because of the length). I think that next we just see Cleveland fixing things, cleaning things, and just keeping up the apartment. He then falls asleep watching TV in his apartment. We hear some sort of loud noise that wakes him up. He looks at his watch (2:50 am I think) and then turns off the TV. He is washing his face in the sink, and we have the perspective of the mirror looking at him. He is out of focus, but we can see the pool through his window. We then see a big splash, about the size of someone doing a cannon ball. He notices this and goes outside with a flashlight. He is calling out trying to get the attention of who is in there. Then we see a girl grab a necklace off a chair near the pool and re-submerge in the water. Cleveland calls out that he saw her and to come up to the surface. He says fine, he will just wait (assuming she has to come up for air sometime). Eventually, he starts to get worried, thinking she may be drowning. He steps into the water with his clothes on, calling out to her. Eventually, he starts swimming and diving down, trying to save her. He does not find her, and gets out of the pool. He is going to run to another side of the pool, but slips on the puddle he made when he got out of the pool, and falls hard. It was unclear then if he then fell into the pool, or was pulled in, but you see a hand (turns out to be Cleveland's) holding the side of the pool, then it goes into the water.
The next scene you see Cleveland sleeping peacefully on his bed. He wakes up confused, and then sees the Lady (Bryce Dallas Howard) sitting on his chair, wearing nothing but a shirt of his. She looks completely human, with reddish hair and very pale skin. In addition, we see a nasty scratch on her leg. He asks if she pulled him from the pool, and she nods. He asks where she is from, and she says 'The Blue World.' He asks if that is another apartment complex, since the one he is at is The Cove. She asks him if he has felt an awakening. She says it feels like pins and needles on the inside. Cleveland says no. He then asks her to leave, saying she will not get in trouble (for swimming after-hours). He does not want a girl in his room this late, saying he is old fashioned and does not even know her name. She immediately says Stori (sounds like story). He said that is not what he meant, and then he notices that he is not stuttering around her. She says she is scared to leave and will wait with him. He says scared of what, and I think she did not reply. They both fall asleep. He wakes up later with her in his lap and her hand on his chest. He tries to wake her up, but she just sighs and rubs his chest. He asks her some question, and she says 'Narf' in her sleep. He asks her to repeat it, but she is sleeping. He says to himself, I will take her outside so she can get fresh air on the lawn chair, then I will get her some coffee, and then I will walk her home. Since she is already in his lap, he just picks her up and starts to walk outside. Then, we see Cleveland holding her from the perspective of some beast. Cleveland gets the feeling he is being watched and stops (the beast is behind him). Stori wakes up and starts screaming, and then he starts screaming and runs back towards the apartment. I was under the impression that the beast was very fast and chasing them, but they made it back inside with no problem. Anyways, we see the beast in a kind of fog, since the sprinklers are always on.
Let me describe the outside so you can understand the setting better. There is a large apartment complex (at least 5 floors high) with two separate buildings that are on one side of a pool [like this kind of: /o\ .] The pool seems fairly big, and has sort of lima bean shape. Surrounding the pool is concrete with chairs and stuff. On the side of the pool opposite the apartments is grass. The grass is very thick, and the sprinklers go off throughout the movie, making a scary noise. After some grass, there is a bunch of trees. It looks like there is a forest bordering the grass, which borders the pool.
Anyways, Cleveland sees the beast in the grass. They make it back to the apartment, and stay there for the night. He then tells her to stay there and he goes about his daily duties. First, we see Cleveland talking to either a policeman or a wild life person describing the beast. He first tries to describe the hair. He says it is really thick, and dark, and green, and flat. Then, he picks up a blade of grass (I thought it was grass, it was flat like grass, but the blades are about an inch thick) and says the fur looks like this. The animal control guy says to forget about the hair, and asks how big it was. Cleveland puts his hand up about 4 feet high and says about this tall. The animal guy asks if it was a Great Dane, and Cleveland says no. He asks if there are any wolves in this area (we notice he is stuttering again) and the animal guys says something like, 'what, here in Philadelphia?' (So, we learn they are on the east coast, which was implied earlier). The animal guy says he will look around the dumpsters and other places to find it. He says a big, dumb animal like that has no place to hide.
As Cleveland carries on his duties, he asks the Asian girl if she knows what 'Narf' is (this was the word that Stori said in her sleep). The girl says it is a bedtime story her grandmother used to say, but she does not remember what it is about. In one of the many repetitive dialogues of the movie, Cleveland then asks if she remembers what it is about. She of course says no, since she already said she did not. Cleveland then asks if her mother knows. We then hear arguing in some Asian language as we see Cleveland standing in the doorway holding his shoes. The mother does not speak English and does not want to tell Cleveland the story because he is a stranger. The girl persists, and translates to Cleveland the story. This is a reoccurring scene, the daughter arguing with the mother to find out more of the story. The whole movie is based on what the daughter tells Cleveland. This is annoying because it would make much more sense to just introduce Stori to the family, that way Cleveland (and the audience) has the whole story to work with instead of fragments. I think at this point all we learn is the following: water nymphs sometimes come to visit humans. They must find one person that is supposed to see them. After that, they can go home. But, there is some beast (they give it a name, but I don't remember what it was) that attacks them if they break the rules. This is another reoccurring theme: anytime someone learns any part of the story, they instantly believe it and want to help.
Finally, Cleveland goes back to Stori. In the mean time, she has heard dripping water in his bathroom, and found the shower. She takes off all her clothes (we only see her back) and she gets in the shower. When Cleveland comes home, she steps out of the shower naked to greet him (we only see her back and Cleveland's face). He asks her to put on some clothes, and then he turns off the shower. He then asks her if she need to find someone. She says 'yes, it's a writer' (it refers to the person she must find). [I am going to give a paraphrase of the dialogue now, with Cleveland asking questions, and Stori answering] Do you know who it is? No. Do you know if it's a man or a woman? No. Do you know what they are writing? No. Are they writing something important? Yes. When can you leave? Tonight, if I meet the writer. What about the creature? There are rules. He can't attack since I am allowed to leave tonight.
So, now Cleveland is on a quest to find a writer. I don't remember if it is the next day or the same day, but he is going on with his duties of fixing stuff in different apartments, and he casually (or sometimes humorously not so casually) asks the tenants if they are writing. He asks the new tenant, who is a film critic, but writes for a newspaper. Cleveland asks if he has written anything since he got here. When he says no, Cleveland eliminates him as a possible candidate. He does say that the cat lady (an old lady in tune with nature)is a writer. He goes to her, and a butterfly lands on her. She says that is strange behavior for a butterfly (I guess she's a butterfly expert) and says that there is a lot of butterflies near the apartments. Cleveland then says that he read her book. She knows he didn't since it had been out of print for 20 years. Cleveland asks if she has written anything recently, and she says no. So, he moves on to someone else. He asks the stoners if the have written anything, and they of course say no. Then, he yells at them (in his stuttering voice) not to smoke (he does that several times throughout the movie) and not to put there clothes down the garbage disposal (it was funny). We meet a guy who is a grand master crossword puzzle guy. He says he can't write, just figure out what words go into the crossword. He has a son, about 4 or 5, who keeps talking about the hidden meaning in the picture on the cereal box. Eventually, he passes the Indian girl and her brother, the character played by M. Night Shyamalan. He complains that Cleveland still hasn't replaced a light bulb over his desk, and Cleveland says he will get to it. As they pass each other, Cleveland hears the girl say he doesn't need the light since he has writer's block. Cleveland realizes he is a writer, and offers to replace the light now. Once inside Shyamalan's room, he sees a folder on his desk with many papers in it. This is obviously the thing he is writing. However, the folder says, 'Do Not Read.' Cleveland changes the light, and sees that the folder is open enough to see the first page (a title page). Cleveland reads the title, "The Cookbook." Cleveland figures this can't be the important writer he must find, and leaves disappointed. He has failed to find a writer. But, don't give up, because when Cleveland leaves, the girl says she will make him dinner. He replies, you're both cooks? The girl says no, Shyamalan is a disaster in the kitchen. Cleveland confesses he read the title page of the book, and asks what it is about if he doesn't know how to cook. Shyamalan says it is his views of the world's problems and politics, etc. Cleveland believes he has found the writer. He makes his way back to the apartment.
In the mean time, Stori has been collecting lots of stuff from Cleveland's apartment. He has pens, glasses, cups, paperweights, etc. She then finds Cleveland's journal. It turns out he is a writer. He comes home, and she says he writes only about one day. She then bluntly says that one day, 'a man came into your house when you were not there. He stole much of your things, and killed your wife and children.' She goes on to reveal that Cleveland was a doctor, but was not there to save his own family. He then felt (and still feels) useless because he couldn't save the ones he loved. Therefore, he took this job as an apartment manager. Cleveland takes this surprisingly well, and tells her that no one here knows that, and that she shouldn't tell anyone. Then, he says he wants her to meet the writer, and that she should put some clothes on, (she only wears a shirt of his throughout the movie). He then brings in Shyamalan [from here on out I'll call him the writer]. Apparently, he told the writer to come to his place because he never filled out some form (just a ruse to get him to meet Stori). When the writer and Stori make eye contact, you can tell something is happening. The writer is just starring at her, and then Cleveland says that he found the form after all, and that he can leave. The writer says ok, and Cleveland asks if feels okay. The writer says he feels strange. Cleveland asks if it feels like pins and needles, and the writer says yes. Once he leaves, Cleveland asks Stori if she can leave now, and she says yes, but Cleveland can't watch. So, he takes her outside, walks around the pool to check for the beast, and then goes inside. He looks relieved that he has truly helped someone.
He then starts to take the trash out on the stairway. Each floor has a trashcan, and he starts with one, goes to two, then to three. I think it's the third floor when we hear banging and screaming. Cleveland rushes down and sees Stori crying and freaking out just inside the closed door on the first floor. He legs now have lots more deep gashes in them. He is trying to calm her down, but we see the beast approaching through the door's window. The beast breaks through the glass and starts attacking, but it can't get inside, or doesn't want to because people might see it. Stori says she doesn't understand why the beast broke the rules to attack her. Next, we see the writer's sister telling the writer that Cleveland has left a beautiful girl who got sick (the does a drinking sign with her hands) to recover in the writer's bed. The sister says that the girl is naked except for Cleveland's shirt, and that Cleveland is a player (funny). The writer then gives Cleveland permission to leave her there for a bit.
Cleveland then goes to the Asian girl's apartment. The girls not there, so he leaves. But, then the mother comes out looking for him holding a phone. This scene is the mother and daughter arguing about telling Cleveland the story, then the mother reluctantly telling the story to the daughter, then the daughter telling Cleveland, then Cleveland asking a question, then the daughter asking the mother, and so on. However, it is funny because the daughter is on the phone the whole time, so Cleveland and the mother pass the phone back and forth, even though she is mad at Cleveland. We find out that the beast will not attach the sea nymph if she follows the rules. The beast has to follow rules too, because it is scared. It is scared of the rule enforcers, a creature so evil that it kills its parents after it's born. Also, the creature looks like monkeys (again, they name the creature, but I don't remember what they called it, so I'll call it a monkey). Cleveland asks what would happen if the beast broke the rules and attacked anyways (the girl laughs and says he has really thought a lot about this). We find out that the beast will break the rules to attack only if the sea nymph is actually a queen. Also, the teeth of the beast are poisonous, and the wounds can only be cured by mud from the sea nymphs' world. We also find out that there are three people the queen must find: an interpreter, a protector, and a guild (which is a group of people).
Now, Cleveland is on a mission to find sea nymph mud. He knows that Stori gets to her home world through the pool somehow, so he dives in. He sees the drain (a very large drain, like the kind you see on streets to prevent flooding). He pulls off the grating, and swims deeper still. (Oh, and I guess Cleveland can hold his breath for like 5 minutes). He then sees a passageway (he brought his flashlight, which is waterproof I guess). At the end, there is a bunch of ancient markings (like the kind they used in the introduction). We then see what Stori has been doing. She has collected lots of cups, pens, necklaces, and stuff. The cups are upside-down, with rocks holding them in place. Cleveland realizes there is air in the cups, so he uses a pen to make a tube and is able to breathe the air. (Cool concept, but he already held his breath for several minutes at that point.) I guess he decides that the end of the passage is actually a doorway, and uses a knife that was down there to open the door. He finds some rocks, which are mud balls, take one, and swim back to the surface of the pool. He returns to Stori, gives her the mud, which saves her life (they don't show how she uses it).
Now, Cleveland needs more information. Stori is naked (we don't see anything) in the shower. The writer's sister is sitting on the floor right in front of her, and Cleveland is outside the bathroom. I guess the sister didn't want Cleveland to see Stori naked, even though he already had. So, Cleveland wants to know who the healer, guardian, and guild are. Stori had said earlier that she cannot speak of the Blue World, so the writer's sister convinces her just answer yes or no, that way she is not telling Cleveland anything, but he can still find out what he needs to know. We learn that she does not know who any of these people are, and that no one knows who they are. She didn't even know she was a queen. Also, we learn either from her or Cleveland that an eagle will come and take her back to her world. We learn that the writer's mind is now clearer than ever, and he can finish his book with ease. We learn that the book will cause much controversy, leading the writer's assassination. But, in a small Midwest town, a boy will find a copy of it, read it, and become the president of the United States. With the writer's ideas as 'seeds,' this president will change the world.
Now, Cleveland is on a mission to find an interpreter and guild. Even though Cleveland healed her with the mud, they decide he is the protector. Cleveland goes to the movie critic for help. Since the movie critic is an expert on plots, he should be able to solve the mystery. He is unaware of the sea people, but offers Cleveland a description of the characters he must find. The interpreter is someone who can find meaning in everyday things that most people take for granted (sounds like a Zen Buddhist to me) and the guild should be a group of people who sit around and talk about nothing, but are skilled with their hands. Cleveland goes to the crossword guy's house, but chooses the dad instead of the son as the interpreter. The then convinces the stoners to help, for they are the guild. Finally, the movie isn't repetitive, and Cleveland repeats what the movie what the movie critic said about the healer without the movie critic saying it first. The healer is one in tune with nature where butterflies are attracted to her. So, they get the cat lady.
All the characters assemble in the bathroom. Stori is still in the shower, and in the narrow hallway are Cleveland, the writer, the writer's sister, the crossword puzzle guy, the cat lady, and the four or five stoners. They convince the crossword puzzle guy to interpret his crossword puzzle into advice on what they should do. Also, I find it silly that all these people immediately believe everything Cleveland says and are willing to help. Anyways, through a very large stretch of the imagination, the form this plan from the crossword puzzle: they must throw a party. The guilds will set up the party. Then, they will let a band start playing so that everyone will turn around. Once no one is looking, the eagle will come to take Stori. However, if no one is looking, the beast is free to attack. That is where the protector comes in. He will stop the beast. Also, we learn this is the last night Stori has for the eagle to take her home. At some point, Stori told the writer that he will live to see the birth of the second of his sister's seven kids.There is a scene, I'm not sure exactly when in occurred, but it went like this. Stori tells Cleveland that the beast can lay itself flat, and blend in with the grass. She says human eyes cannot see it when it is hiding; it looks just like a bump or hill in the grass. So, Stori is convinced that Cleveland is the protector, and she sends him out to deal with the beast. In one hand Cleveland has a walkie-talkie through which he communicates with Stori; in the other hand he has a mirror. Stori tells Cleveland to search through the grass looking through the mirror. He should be able to see two red glowing eyes. Eventually Cleveland finds them, and then walks backwards towards them, as Stori told him to do. Once he is close enough, Stori tells him to turn around, face the beast, and say some phrase in anther language that translates to a command to rise. The beast rises up. Cleveland has now challenged it. Stori says that since he is the protector, he can hypnotize the beast by looking it in the eyes. He can just think or say to the beast to go backwards, and it will. Cleveland does so, but the beast walks forwards, growling and very scary. Cleveland tells Stori that he cannot control the beast, and she realizes that he is not the protector, and she screams for Cleveland to run. He does, and we, again, do not see what happens. We just see the film critic staring at Cleveland, asking him what he doing. He sees Cleveland on the ground, out of breath, holding a mirror, and crouching in fear. Apparently, the beast fled instead of letting itself be seen by the film critic (which is what I should have done instead of seeing this movie).
Now, we are at the party that the guilds set up. They are ready to queue the band to distract everyone so that the eagle will come to take Stori, but the band does not get the message (the stoners played with the walkie-talkies so much the batteries died). Cleveland leaves his post as guard to watch the beast, telling the stoners to watch instead. The stoners are immediately distracted by a puking partier, and carry him away, leaving no one to watch the grass for the beast. Since everyone is looking at the band, no one is watching the grass. Therefore, the beast is able to grab Stori in its mouth, since she was at the pool, waiting for the eagle. Cleveland sees that she is missing, and runs after her. Apparently, he is much faster than the beast, and he gets close enough to seeing the beast that the beast just leaves Stori on the ground.
Everyone assembles again: Cleveland, the writer and his sister, the cat lady, the stoners, and the crossword guy (also the Asian girl is now there as well). They think that Stori is dead. They realize that if they interpreted the signs right, everything should have gone according to plan. They turn to the crossword guy, and he tries to get more messages out of his crossword puzzle. He says he can't, and that he doesn't think he is the interpreter. Everyone agrees that something is wrong and didn't feel right. They ask Cleveland why he was so sure the each person was who he said they were (healer, guild, and interpreter). He says that the film critic was so sure. At the same time, we watch the film critic talking to the beast, trying to reason that he will survive since he is not in a horror movie. He gets shredded and dies. The crossword puzzle guy realizes that his son is much better at getting messages out of nothing.
Next, everyone is gathered in the boy's kitchen, listening to him. He says something like they need to perform a ritual to heal Stori. They need 9 people: one who has no secrets, one who has an important opinion, and seven sisters. The 9 people need to touch the healer, and SHE will heal the girl. Cleveland realizes that the one with no secrets is the man whose wife tells everyone his nasty health problems, and the man with an important opinion is the quiet guy who leaves his door open. The Hispanic family from the beginning has 5 daughters. The fiver girls make up 5 of the 7 sisters. The other two are the two other girls there (not including the cat lady who they think is the healer): the Asian girl and the writer's sister. They all join hands as the cat lady holds Stori and says, "It's not your time to go." Nothing happens, and everyone starts arguing. Eventually, they realize Cleveland is the healer: he attracted the butterfly to the cat lady, he healed Stori once before, and he was a doctor (but no one knows that). He reluctantly switches places with the cat lady in the huddle. They tell him to say something. He speaks, very emotionally, that he is sorry he couldn't help them and that he wasn't there (he is speaking to his dead wife and kids). Eventually, all dead gashes on Stori's legs become mere scratches, and she gets up (she hadn't moved this whole time). Also, I thought her hair changed from red to blonde, but that may not be true.
The end went a little fast, but this is what I remember: Stori goes back out to the pool, with the 7 'sisters' leading her. The sisters are walking in a crouched/attack stance carrying various 'weapons' (broomsticks, mops, etc.). They are defending Stori. For some reason, even though they knew that Cleveland was the healer, not the protector, and from his encounter with the beast that he was not the protector, they did not think to find the protector. Anyways, they are all trying to guard Stori, outside, in the rain (also, the rain caused all the partygoers to go inside). The beast comes out, ready to attack. Cleveland is the only thing between the beast and Stori, and just before we think Cleveland is brave, he moves out of the way, leaving a clear path to Stori. Actually, he realized the beast was hypnotized, and moved to see who the guardian is. It turns out that the guy who is very strong and always working out (albeit just one side of his body) is the protector. He left the party to see what was going on, and is mesmerized by the beast (actually, he is mesmerizing the beast, but whatever). Cleveland tells him not to break eye contact. The strong guy, now the protector (his name was something like Reggie) now walks towards the beast. The beast is very angry, but backs away. Reggie walks the beast all the way to the trees when he looks away. He sees the giant eagle coming to take Stori. Just when the beast is about to attack Reggie (since he broke his hypnotic eye contact) the evil 'monkeys' (who look all grassy like the beast) come out of the trees and proceed to violently kill the beast. Then, Stori is safe, the eagle takes her, and the movie ends.