Every M. Night Shyamalan Twist, Ranked
Director M. Night Shyamalan is infamous for including a twist ending in nearly every one of his films. Sometimes you get an all-time classic movie moment, like in "The Sxth Sense." Other times, you get "The Happening." Here's how Shyamalan's twists measure up. And a massive SPOILER WARNING if you haven't seen "Glass" from earlier this year. Yeah, we go ahead and spill the beans.
10. 'The Lady in the Water' (2006)
This one isn't even really a twist so much as it is an excuse for Shyamalan to cram in the most self-indulgent director cameo in Hollywood history. The protagonists in this fantasy film discover that Bryce Dallas Howard's character has come to the human world to seek out a writer whose work will change the course of mankind. Naturally, that writer is played by Shyamalan himself … Whew boy.
9. 'Glass' (2019)
Shyamalan's latest twist hinges around Sarah Paulson's Dr. Staple, who has the very specific skill of treating people who believe they're characters in comic books and who, at the end of the movie, it's revealed is part of a Hellfire Club-style organization that suppresses and sometimes outright kills people with these abilities. Honestly, the twist would have been more effective if it didn't come out of left field and if it had any kind of precedent. But, alas, it's one of the more random tangents that Night has taken us on. Also "Glass" has a twist where his character from "The Village," "Unbreakable," "Split" and now "Glass" are the same person so I guess that's something?
8. 'The Happening' (2008)
Sometimes a movie is so lousy that you might as well just go for broke, right? That must have been the thinking with "The Happening," which reveals that a rash of suicides is being caused by Earth's plant life, which is trying to purge the world of humanity in order to stave off ecological Armageddon. It's only slightly more unbelievable than the idea of Mark Wahlberg playing a science teacher.
7. 'The Village' (2004)
"The Village" is a somewhat effective horror movie right up until the final ten minutes. The reveal that the cloaked monsters terrorizing a remote settlement are actually humans in disguise is bad enough, but the real kicker is the twist that this supposed period piece is actually taking place in the 21st Century. It makes the movie a whole lot less fun to watch a second time.
6. 'Signs' (2002)
"Signs" boasts a double-whammy of dumb. First, it reveals that the film's alien invaders are deathly allergic to water, making them about the dumbest villains this side of the Wet Bandits. Then it reveals that there's a divine reason why Rory Culkin's character has asthma. Because of course there is.
5. 'Devil' (2010)
Shyamalan was too busy destroying "The Last Airbender" to direct this horror film, but his DNA is all over it. That's especially true with the film's surprise ending, as one of the characters trapped aboard the elevator from Hell is literally the Devil in disguise. It's a bit of a weird swerve for such an otherwise restrained movie, but a memorable twist all the same.
4. 'Unbreakable' (2000)
"Unbreakable" had the luxury of arriving before viewers started assuming (rightfully so) that every Shyamalan movie has an earth-shattering twist at the end. As such, viewers were surprised to learn Samuel L. Jackson's seemingly benevolent mentor is actually a mass-murderer obsessed with creating his superhero archenemy. The whole "the good guy is actually the bad guy" trope is pretty well-worn by now, but this variation is more ambitious than most.
3. 'Split' (2017)
For a while, it seemed as though "Split" might reach the end credits without a major plot twist turning the plot on its head. Shyamalan saved his big shocker for the very last scene, revealing that "Split" is set in the same universe as "Unbreakable" and that Bruce Willis' super-strong security guard David Dunn is joining the hunt for The Beast. This is one shared movie universe we can really get behind.
2. 'The Visit' (2015)
"The Visit" is widely regarded as a much-needed return to form for Shyamalan, emphasizing scares and atmosphere over ridiculous plot contrivances. The twist here is a good one, too. After enduring days of increasingly strange behavior from their grandparents, the film's young protagonists discover that the elderly couple are actually escapees from a local mental asylum and that their real grandparents were murdered. Zounds!
1. 'The Sixth Sense' (1999)
It's unlikely Shyamalan will ever be able to top his first and most iconic twist. This uber-popular horror film ends with Bruce Willis' character discovering he had been dead all along. It's not just the sheer novelty of this twist that makes it stand out, but the fact that Shyamalan spent the whole movie dropping clues and teasing the big moment.