M. Night Shyamalan was, at one point, considered the second coming of Steven Spielberg. Magazine covers praised the director after his great success the Sixth Sense, and gained even more fans with his follow-up film, Unbreakable. However, he stumbled along the way, falling into the trap of having twisted endings in all his films and becoming a joke to many movie fans.
Shyamalan enjoyed a return to form two decades later, first with a found-footage film produced by Blumhouse (The visit) and then returning to Unbreakable universe, with Pull apart Y Glass. A rare director who mostly only makes movies that he writes, he created some well-written characters over the years.
10 Merrill Hess – Signs (2002)
Joaquin Phoenix has really stood out in the last decade, receiving critical acclaim for many of his film roles. He has earned four Oscars throughout his career, winning one for playing the Joker in the 2020 film based on the character. In 2002, he played Merrill Hess in Shyamalan’s Signs.
He was the younger brother of Mel Gibson’s Graham Hess and the uncle of two great child stars in Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. Phoenix paired well with Gibson in the alien invasion film, Shyamalan’s latest film to receive critical acclaim for more than a decade.
9 Cole Sear – Sixth Sense (1999)
Sixth Sense made Haley Joel Osment a star. In the movie, Bruce Willis played a child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe, a man who feels like he failed one of his patients. When he meets young Cole, he feels that he has a chance at redemption, as the young man claims that he can see ghosts and that they are everywhere.
The role forces Cole to show great emotion and anguish, and when the end comes, he shows that he was right in his portrayal of the tormented child.
8 Ivy Elizabeth Walker – The Town (2004)
At the time, critics and viewers alike devastated The village due to its twisted ending. However, the movie sets that ending well, with the people of the village proving to be unreliable and even the monster hunting people proving to be false.
Bryce Dallas Howard had to carry this movie, and he did the best he could considering the carpet-pulling twist, as Ivy Elizabeth Walker, someone who knows something is wrong and doesn’t notice it until it’s almost too late.
7 Cleveland Heep – Lady in the Water (2006)
Another M. Night Shyamalan film that critics hated was the 2006 release, Lady in the water. The rejection of the film was due to critics feeling that Shyamalan was trying too hard to write something autobiographical and detailed his feeling that he was abused by critics because of his films.
Shyamalan stars in the film as a tortured writer, while Paul Giamatti plays Cleveland Heep, the superintendent of the Philadelphia apartment complex. When a water nymph arrives, she asks to meet a writer who will one day write an important story that will inspire others. And Giamatti is the man who unites them.
6 Graham Hess – Signs (2002)
Mel Gibson was still at the top of his game in 2002 when M. Night Shyamalan chose him as the leader in Signs.
In the film, Gibson plays a former priest who lives with his younger brother and two children after the death of his wife. He is depressed and has abandoned his religion, feeling that he has lost everything. However, an alien invasion forces him to stand up and fight for the remaining members of his family, which ends up helping him rediscover his faith.
5 Anya Taylor-Joy – Split (2016) / Glass (2019)
Anya Taylor-Joy has become one of the best actresses working today and recently gained attention on the Netflix original series. The Queen’s Gambit. In 2016, she was the de facto last girl in the M. Night Shyamalan movie. Pull apart.
Taylor-Joy played Casey Cooke, a teenager with a traumatic past whom Kevin Wendell Crumb chose to become a sacrifice to the Beast. Her history of abuse made her much deeper than many other Final Girls, and she even played a major role in the next movie. Glass, as she was there to help stop Kevin once and for all.
4 David Dunn – Unbreakable (2000) / Glass (2019)
David Dunn is a character who has appeared in three M. Night Shyamalan films, which gives him plenty of room for character development. Played by Bruce Willis, David was a security guard who survived a largely fatal train accident. This gave him superhuman strength and durability.
In UnbreakableHe had to accept his role in the world and set out to become a hero who helped others. For the moment Glass he rolled around, he was older and still fighting, now with his son as his “man in the chair”, but he was still broken and he needed to find out what his role was in this.
3 Malcolm Crowe – Sixth Sense (1999)
A second role for Bruce Willis, Malcolm Crowe, was a movie character who made M. Night Shyamalan a star. In Sixth SenseMalcolm was a child psychologist who believed he was failing a patient. When that patient appeared at his home and died, Malcolm was lost and believed he had found a way to redeem himself with a new patient, a child who sees ghosts.
The fact that Malcolm is a ghost makes this one of the most playable movies ever made, with clues everywhere and one of the best Willis roles in his career.
two Mr. Glass – Unbreakable (2000) / Glass (2019)
Glass was the villain of Unbreakable and one of the villains of Glass. Portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, Glass was the opposite of David Dunn.
Although Dunn had great strength and was “unshakable”, Mr. Glass suffered from a disease since he was a child in which his bones were brittle and even the smallest fall could break him. He was a figure whose past turned his story into a tragedy, but he was so angry that he couldn’t be less than the villain in his own story.
1 Kevin Wendell Crumb – Split (2016) / Glass (2019)
The best-written character in M. Night Shyamalan’s career is easily Kevin Wendell Crumb, brilliantly played by James McAvoy. This character is far from an accurate representation of Dissociative Identity Disorder, but it is a brilliant fictional depiction of a shattered man in a monster movie.
Kevin is like Jekyll and Hyde times twenty-three, and McAvoy goes from one personality to another without missing a beat. While Unbreakable was Shyamalan in his prime, Crumb in Pull apart it’s M. Night creating his best character.
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