M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film Split hits the theaters just now and surprisingly I’m hearing good things about it, It’s directors twelfth directional feature and his 25th year of making films. Shymalan’s carrier is like a roller coaster, sometimes his movies move the audiences to the cult level and some of his movies cannot be watched till the end, with the highs sitting very high, the lows going very low, and the transition from one to the next giving the viewer a severe case of whiplash. Here is the ranking of his 12 movies.
Given the basis, there’s a near-perfect blueprint to create a film franchise here, but M. Night managed to create a colossal blunder of a movie so bad that it’s whitewashing casting controversy is even one of its lesser problems.
A shockingly-inept movie that is as about as lame as sci-fi can get on a large scale. Featuring a terrible script co-written by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta, the film stars Will and Jaden Smith as the film’s leads which earned them a combined three Razzie awards. It’s a boring and risk-free film that offers nothing new to the viewer, not even much entertainment.
Though parts of this B-Movie cheese-fest work as an “homage” to the over-the-top 50s disaster movies, the rest of the thing plays out like a school play written by the 3rd graders performing it. Mark Wahlberg also acts beside a plastic tree in one scene if you recall, and that’s not even the silliest part of the movie.
Considered by many as a “return to form” for the director, the found footage feature is a clunky piece of work. Though it has one of the more clever twists of Shyamalan’s filmography, the rigid actors don’t make it work and the scares are more laugh-out-loud than scream-your-head-off. It also might be the only movie ever that has two dramatic beats that hinge on literal dirty diapers.
Shymalan’s first feature plays like the work of a man still in film school, and in fact it is. A collection of scenes that don’t exactly form a cohesive story but with a kernel of an idea that could have been interesting if it wasn’t a freshman feature.
A silly fairy tale with an interesting inherent idea that is squandered by both a goofy twist and a completely baffling appearance by Shyamalan as a writer set to change the world. Shyamalan’s films tend to have stellar actors in front of the camera, but Lady probably has the best ensemble.
The film that sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of Shyamalan’s movies, Wide Awake is a coming-of-age comedy about a young boy in Catholic school trying to figure out if God is even real. Yes, really! A charming enough movie that is quite funny at times and in fact very touching and cute. It also has the most to say out of all his features.
Split is the true return to form for Shyamalan, delivering a solid enough thriller (albeit with some convoluted logic and silly moments at time) that has the right kind of punch from its dramatic leads. The film also has the most exciting twist of Shyamalan’s career for fans of his filmography.
Again, a silly twist may alter your feelings of the feature while clear of the context of the movie, but Signs capitalizes on the atmosphere and culture of a post 9/11 America like few other movies actually achieved. Mel Gibson also delivers one of his best performances, and the fact that Shyamalan continues to get such great performances out of child actors is a marvel.
In a world where superhero movies rule the box office, Unbreakable is the one true king that should live on the iron throne. A perfect thriller that takes Shyamalan’s favorite aspect of the superhero movie (the first act) and stretches it into a taut masterwork.
The film that launched Shyamalan into the mainstream is still his best. The Sixth Sense does a perfect balance of the dramatic elements and its horror elements, blending together to form one of the best thrillers of all time. The movie has also ascended from “just a movie” to icon of pop culture and Must-Watch material.