8 best M. Night Shyamalan movies, ranked

CinemaCon 2024 - Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation
M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film Trap will be released in April 2024 (Image via Getty)

Warner Bros. released the trailer for M Night. Shyamalan’s upcoming film titled Trap on April 18, 2024. The film features Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, and Saleka Shyamalan in prominent roles. The trailer sets up an impressive and unconventional premise that will likely focus on a cat-and-mouse game between a serial killer and the police force looking to hunt him down.

Trap is scheduled for theatrical release on August 9, 2024, which will follow up on The Watchers, a thriller film produced by Shyamalan and directed by his daughter, Ishana.

M. Night Shyamalan has the uncanny ability to push boundaries when it comes to creating thriller films. He is known for employing a vast range of themes, ranging from supernatural phenomena to sci-fi, superheroes, and even mass appeal films. Here is a list of the top eight M. Night Shyamalan films that make for an intriguing watch.

Ranking the 8 best M. Night Shyamalan movies (as per Rotten Tomatoes)

8) Wide Awake (1998) - 45%

A poster of the film (Image via Amazon)
A poster of the film (Image via Amazon)

A departure from Shyamalan’s usual films, Wide Awake is a heartfelt drama that explores nuanced subjects like death and faith in God. Ten-year-old Joshua (Joseph Cross) mourns the loss of his beloved grandfather as he sets on a metaphorical journey to find God and ensure that his grandfather is in good hands.

The official synopsis of the film reads:

“After the death of his grandfather, 10-year-old Joshua goes on a search for answers about God and loss, finding clarity in the unlikeliest source.”

7) Old (2021) - 50%

A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)
A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan adapted Pierre Oscar Lévy's Swiss graphic novel, Sandcastle, into the horror film Old. Starring Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, and Alex Wolff among others, the film features a classic Shyamalan twist at the end that leaves viewers polarized.

The official plot of the movie is as follows:

"A couple who is about to get divorced takes their children to a tropical resort on a vacation. Their trip soon turns into a nightmare when they end up on a secluded beach that makes them age rapidly.”

6) Knock at the Cabin (2023) - 67%

A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)
A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)

Knock at the Cabin is based on the 2018 novel titled The Cabin at the End of the World by author Paul G. Tremblay. Shyamalan creates a suspense-filled atmosphere in the film, featuring Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Jonathan Groff, and Abby Quinn. This project is also derived stylistically from Alfred Hitchcock’s films like The Bird and Rope.

The official plot of the film reads:

“Andrew, Eric and their adopted daughter, Wen, travel to the countryside for a vacation. But their family's time together is interrupted by four armed strangers demanding an unthinkable sacrifice.”

5) The Visit (2015) - 68%

A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)
A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan reportedly used the Found Footage style to direct The Visit. This film marked the return of the director after a string of underwhelming projects back then. The plot centers around two siblings who go to visit their estranged grandparents. Things take a bizarre turn during their visit and go from bad to worse.

The official film summary is as follows:

“Becca and Tyler plan a week-long stay at their grandparents' place, whom they have never seen. Little do they know that their visit will be the most terrifying experience of their lives.”

4) Unbreakable (2000) - 70%

A poster of the film (Image via Touchstone Pictures)
A poster of the film (Image via Touchstone Pictures)

One of the finest films by the director, Unbreakable expanded the horizons of the superhero genre by combining thriller elements. This is the first film in the Unbreakable film franchise, followed by Split (2016) and Glass (2019). It stars Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robin Wright, among others. The realistic vision of the superhero genre makes this film one of the popular ones by Shyamalan.

The official plot of the movie reads:

“David, a security guard, survives a fatal train accident, only to be tracked down by a man named Elijah Price, who claims that David is blessed with superhuman abilities.”

3) Signs (2002) - 75%

A still from the film (Image via Disney)
A still from the film (Image via Disney)

Signs is a science-fiction horror film that explores the themes of religion, friendship, and extraterrestrial beings. It features a star-studded ensemble, including Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin, and Rory Culkin, each carrying the extreme tension portrayed in the film.

The official plot reads:

“Graham Hess along with his family migrates to a farmhouse where crop circles begin to appear. At first, he ignores the signs but is alarmed when alien activities are spotted around the world.”

2) Split (2016) - 79%

A poster of the film (Image via Universal Pictures)
A poster of the film (Image via Universal Pictures)

The standalone sequel to Unbreakable, Split introduced a new set of characters in the superhero lore created by M. Night Shyamalan back in 2000. James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy put in remarkable performances in this psychological thriller film.

The official synopsis reads:

“Kevin, who is suffering from dissociative identity disorder and has 23 alter egos, kidnaps three teenagers. They must figure out his friendly personas before he unleashes his 24th personality.”

1) The Sixth Sense (1999) - 86%

A still from the film (Image via Disney)
A still from the film (Image via Disney)

The Sixth Sense put M. Night Shyamalan in the spotlight, owing to its remarkable plot twist at the conclusion. The story revolves around a child psychologist and his patient, a young boy who claims to be able to see ghosts. The layered metaphors in the film make it go beyond an ordinary psychological thriller. Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, and Toni Collette play titular characters in this project.

The official synopsis of the movie is as follows:

“Cole Sear, a troubled child, is gifted with a unique power to communicate with the dead. He consults an equally disturbed psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, to help him out of this strange problem.”

The above list showcases the best of M. Night Shyamalan, as per Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Viewers can expect twists and turns from the above filmography. His upcoming movie, Trap, is scheduled to release on August 9, 2024.

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