The horror/thriller genre is exciting because it is constantly morphing to fit the new things that scare us. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, slasher flicks were popular because of the uptick in serial killers in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, apocalyptic thrillers started trending as many believed the world was coming to an end. However, regardless of your favorite flavor of the genre, one name will always evoke the same gut-wrenching feeling: M. Night Shyamalan. When you see the Philadelphia-raised director’s name flash in the opening credits, you know you’re in for some shit.
Throughout his career spanning more than 20 years, Shyamalan has taken psychological thrillers and shaped them in his own demented image. He came out the gate hot with his first major feature film, The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis, and continued on one of the cleanest directorial streaks to date with Unbreakable and Signs immediately following. Shyamalan’s captivating storytelling method of leading his audience in one direction and then jerking them utterly perpendicular from the original course is what made his movies so enthralling. A twist ending is always promised and trying to figure out how you got there is the fun of a Shyamalan film. Paired with his elite character writing and complex story setup, it made him one of the best directors of the early 2000s. And like the late Stan Lee, Shyamalan always makes a cameo appearance in his films, which are often set in his hometown of Philadelphia. Despite his fall from grace in the early 2010s with a cold streak of films, it always felt like Shyamalan would be able to redeem himself.
Getting back on course in 2016 with Split and closing his Unbreakable trilogy with Glass in 2019, and later Old in 2021, Shyamalan is back to reclaim his spot in the pantheon of psychological thrillers with his latest endeavor, Knock at the Cabin. The feature film is centered around a family being held hostage and both husbands must choose who to sacrifice in order to prevent the apocalypse. With Knock at the Cabin in theaters this week, we decided to rank all M. Night Shyamalan movies, from worst to best. We will see where his latest falls on the list after its release.