M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 7:39 am

I’ve never been a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan movies. After having a monster hit thanks to the presence of Bruce Willis and a twist ending that caught audiences by surprise, almost all of his subsequent releases have relied on the same gimmick…with increasingly diminishing results. That being said, I still wanted to put together a list of his works to date so readers could watch and judge for themselves.

In love with movies from an early age and idolizing Steven Spielberg, Shyamalan had made 45 home movies by the time he was 17. While his father wanted him to become a doctor, Shyamalan attended NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, making his first feature while still a student there. But the third time was a charm, as he broke box office records with The Sixth Sense and had people talking at water coolers around the globe. His career has since become somewhat bumpy, with a few well-received movies sprinkled amidst critical and financial disasters.

If you’d like to enjoy the works of M. Night Shyamalan in the comfort of your own home, be sure to become a member of Netflix. You can rent on DVD or Blu-ray, or take advantage of their streaming option. They also have a number of subscription plans, allowing almost anyone to find one that fits their budget.

Praying with Anger (1992) – While it only played at one theatre for one week, Praying with Anger still marked the feature film debut of M. Night Shyamalan. He wrote, directed, and starred in the film as an Indian American who returns to his native country as part of a college exchange program. Western and Indian cultures clash, leading to violence and intolerance.

Wide Awake (1998) – Made in 1995 and released in 1998, this comedy-drama stars Joseph Cross as a 10-year-old kid who sets off on a search for God after the death of his grandfather (Robert Loggia). Rosie O’Donnell plays a nun with a passion for baseball. With such brilliant ideas as that last one, it’s no wonder the film only made $282,000 against a budget of $6 million.

The Sixth Sense (1999) – The king of all M. Night Shyamalan movies, The Sixth Sense stars Haley Joel Osment as a troubled kid who can communicate with dead people. His poor mother (Toni Collette) thinks he’s out of his mind, but he slowly gains confidence thanks to the efforts of an equally troubled child psychologist played by Bruce Willis. The twist ending generated a major buzz, and it ended up making almost $675 million against a budget of $40 million. This would ensure plenty of artistic control for Shymalan in his coming films, not to mention an endless array of twist endings.

Unbreakable (2000) – One year after the success of The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis reunited with Shyamalan for his inventive tale of a security guard who’s the only survivor of a massive train crash. Walking away without a scratch, he soon encounters a mysterious known as Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) and begins to realize that he’s capable of more than the average person. A small-scale superhero movie that should delight fanboys. The ending, however, left me somewhat disappointed.

Signs (2002) – Mel Gibson stars as a former priest who must fend off invading aliens along with his younger brother (Joaquin Phoenix) and two small children (Abigail Breslin and Rory Culkin). A major success at the box office, largely due to the waning starpower of Mel Gibson (prior to his total career meltdown). It’s an entertaining enough romp, although the requisite alien weakness is predictably silly. Don’t the aliens ever scout out these kind of things?

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The Village (2004) – Set in the 19th century, The Village revolves around an isolated Pennsylvania community that’s formed an uneasy truce with the monsters who inhabit the surrounding woods. But the peace is disturbed when a local youth (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes obsessed with disobeying the village elders and journeying beyond the boundaries. This all culminates with a twist ending, one which managed to piss off a large segment of viewers. Despite that fact, it still ended up being a big hit at the box office, although disgruntled fans would pay Shyamalan back with his next film.

Lady in the Water (2006) – Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron’s daughter) fails to impress in either the acting or looks category, and poor Paul Giamatti plays the Philly maintenance man who fishes her out of the local swimming pool. He and the residents come to realize that her origins are supernatural, and she’s being pursued by something far more dangerous. A disaster from start to finish, it flopped at the box office and drew nothing but scorn from critics grown weary of Shyamalan’s one-note storytelling (the presence of an arrogant and ultimately doomed film critic in the movie probably didn’t help). Move this to the bottom of your “M. Night Shyamalan movies to see” list.

The Happening (2008) – The first R-rated film from Shyamalan, The Happening stars Marky Mark Wahlberg as a science teacher trying to flee the East Coast while a mysterious neurotoxin causes anyone who comes in contact with it to commit suicide. The cause behind the disaster is all kinds of goofy, and the overall premise has been explored with more verve in countless disaster and zombie movies. That being said, it’s still worst a rental if you approach it as nothing more than a dimwitted B-movie.

The Last Airbender (2010) – Based on the first season of the animated TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, this 3D snoozefest was the first film in a hoped-for franchise about a young boy prophesized to unite the warring elemental clans and establish harmony. The lame script and poor 3D effects were at the center of the problem, but at least the diverse casting gave a number of ethnic actors a chance to shine in a big-budget Hollywood film. Nominated for nine Razzie Awards.

That wraps up our look at M. Night Shyamalan movies. If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, become a member of Netflix and have them delivered right to your door. We do get a small commission if you sign up via our site, but that money goes right back into the costs of operation for Only Good Movies.

And now for this article’s twist ending…

I’m actually a ghost writing this from beyond the grave. Gotcha!

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 20th, 2011 at 7:39 am and is filed under Bad Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “M. Night Shyamalan Movies”

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March 4, 2011


I think many viewers of Shy’s movies are looking for the twist endings, but not even 6th Sense had one (I can’t be the only one who knew from the first time he met the boy that he-Willis’ character- was dead, he was shot in the very start afterall). The movies are never about the twist, they are instead about realizations and the beginnings of understanding, both of which are very difficult human undertakings. The audience is not supposed to be surprised by the ‘endings,’ the characters themselves are because they are in emotional crisis leading them to the brink of realization and the start of a lifetime of understanding. Viewing their processes of coming to this is cathartic, exactly what a drama is meant to be. Not sitting anticipating some unbelievable shock/twist ending makes the movies touchingly allegoric (The Happening tried too hard and AirBender wasn’t his story). I watch and rewatch 6th, Unbreakable, Signs, Village, Lady. I also rewatch The Jerk, The Matrix, Harry Potter, LOTR, Sound of Music, KungFu Hustle, etc. Movies can be fun and enlightening or both.

April 9, 2012

Kovit Hitapot

I am doubly proud of the work of fine artists like Mr. Night Shyamalan. South Asians have come along way in cinema and have very far to go still. My deepest wish would be to see the M. Night Shyamalan of Thailand appear. That would do the Thai people proud, yet still we persist. Mr. Shyamalan’s movies have twisted endings, no doubt, but then he is forced to these endings by the script in some cases.


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