It would be fair to say that despite working in a similar genre and having a propensity for making cameo appearances in many of his movies, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is no Alfred Hitchcock. That’s not to denigrate Shyamalan; he’s made some entertaining pictures, but he’s unlikely to reach the exalted status of the ‘Master of Suspense’, despite his best efforts.
Like Hitchcock, Shyamalan has also ventured into scripted television with the short-lived Wayward Pines (2015-16) and the current Apple+ psychological horror series Servant, which is picking up some of his best reviews to date.
To an extent the director is the victim of his own success, as the popularity of his breakthrough movie The Sixth Sense led him to attempt a version of its twist ending in almost all of his following pictures. Some have worked, others less so.
Critics have a point when they say that a fair few of the director’s films would work better as shorts or 30-minute TV episodes, as some feel a trifle overextended.
Shyamalan’s career was in steep decline by the time of 2006’s notorious flop Lady in the Water (an incomprehensible modern day mermaid fable full of ‘Scrunts’, ‘Narfs’ and ‘Eatlons’) and it was almost ten years before he enjoyed commercial and critical success again with The Visit (2015) and Split the following year.
His new movie, Old, hews to the high concept formula of Shyamalan’s previous work, concerning as it does a tropical beach where a vacationing family discover that they will age their full lives within one day if they stay there.
Here’s my selection of seven of M Night Shyamalan’s best motion pictures:
Split (2017) – Amazon Rent/Buy
If you’re a connoisseur of over-acting, Split is just the movie for you.
A ‘stealth sequel’ to the director’s earlier Unbreakable (due to an uncredited Bruce Willis cameo at the end), Split stars James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/aka The Horde, an unfortunate dissociative identity disorder sufferer.