If ever there was a time to take a trip down producer/director/writer M. Night Shyamalan memory lane, it’s now. The release of Split – and that ending – immediately had me wanting to revisit a handful of his best films. Well, best in my opinion. I’ll be the first to say that I am not a film critic, and sometimes, folks tend not to agree with me on what’s a pretty good movie. I know that. I’m not going to write essays filled with super pensive paragraphs that dissect every little aspect of Shyamalan’s films because I actually go to the movies to be entertained. That’s something that I can and have been able to count on with his films for a long time.
While I know that not every single film of his has been welcomed with open arms, I do feel that the films that he’s involved with do more good than harm in the way of storytelling. It’s that reason that I picked these films, that M. Night Shyamalan had a hand in, to be included in the list below. I’ve listed them in the order they came out but that’s the only rank here. And yes, I can hear the cheers and boos already but that’s totally fine. So feel free to leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on the list or his movies in general. Now, the list…..
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)
Kicking off this list is what a lot of movie fans would say is his flagship movie The Sixth Sense. I hadn’t heard of Shyamalan before this but after seeing this I remember thinking that whatever else this guy does, I’m buying a movie ticket for it. Hands down, it remains one of the best films ever made and a monument to the “twist ending” genre in film.
For Unbreakable, he taps Bruce Willis again and I have zero problem with that. I went into this film not fully knowing that it would turn out to be – in essence – Shyamalan’s take on the superhero world. The way he does it is fantastic, from the pace, the color scheme and the big showdown, it really is almost like reading a great comic or book graphic novel. And to have Willis acting with Samuel L. Jackson is always a welcomed movie-watching experience. Recently, I watched this again after a long absence and it holds up a great as ever.
Mel Gibson. Joaquin Phoenix. Crop circles. Aliens. All Signs that you’re in for a treat. For me, this is probably the most watched M. Night Shyamalan movie. I love the UFO world and reading about crop circles and such. When the news about this came out, followed by it’s trailers, I knew this was right up my alley. My favorite part about this whole movie was that it practically does everything in the way that tension and scares live in a movie without ever bombarding you with in-your-face effects. It relies on the ambient nature of it’s own world to set the mood and make you feel scared and anxious for this family that’s going this terrible and frightening ordeal.
LADY IN THE WATER (2006)
I can listen to this soundtrack all day first of all. The score to Lady in the Water is almost a character in itself. This movie will probably get the most boos and sighs over any others on this list. I’ve never understood why it did so poorly upon it’s release. It reunites Bryce Dallas Howard from The Village once again with Shyamalan and the very talented Paul Giamatti who delivers a fine performance! What makes this one of my favorites is that strays just the right amount of distance from Shyamalan’s previous films. The result is a moving and touching tale of life and not giving up.
Going down? The individuals trapped in this elevator are, thanks to “The Devil’s Meeting” folktale which is the center theme of Devil. I went out on a limb to see this since it was billed as a horror movie and that’s not usually what blows my hair back at the theater. However, I did end up giving the Devil his due and I’m glad I did. This one kept me guessing all the way through until the end. Another of Shyamalan’s films that sort of fell through the cracks but definitely worth seeing again or for the first time! Feel free to leave the lights on too.
THE VISIT (2015)
The reviews for The Visit caused a lot of hype from I remember. Lots of media sources and critics called The Visit a potential turn for the better for Shyamalan. Fans and critics alike tossed around the notion that it was a welcomed return to form for the director. Plenty of scares were had and thanks to Shyamalan, we’ve never been more terrified of a vacation to grandma’s house. Or germs. Or cleaning suspiciously large ovens.