After over a decade characterized by the law of diminishing returns and a couple of outright disasters, M. Night Shyamalan slowly embarked on the comeback trail. Once hailed as cinema’s latest wunderkind after rocketing into the mainstream with The Sixth Sense, which raked in over $672 million at the box office, scoring six Academy Award nominations in the process including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, it looked as though Hollywood had found its latest phenom.
However, from there things began to slide gradually downwards. Unbreakable was great, Signs was good, The Village was okay in parts, and Lady in the Water and The Happening marked a descent into disappointment, while The Last Airbender and After Earth were just awful. Things got so bad that even low budget horror Devil, which only cost $10 million to make, omitted his name from the marketing campaign completely in fear of being tainted by association despite Shyamalan receiving a story credit.
The Visit was a minor return to form, but it was Split that brought the filmmaker back from the brink from obscurity, thanks in no small part to James McAvoy’s tour de force performance as multiple different characters. It was a major hit after earning close to $280 million on a $9 million budget, sending fans into meltdown when Bruce Willis showed up at the very end to tie it into Unbreakable.
Glass saw the writer/director come close to going full Shyamalan again, but Split remains a raucous delight. Netflix subscribers clearly agree, too, and it’s been dominating the global Top 10 most-watched list for several days now, despite thousands of people lending their signatures to a petition to have it removed from the library entirely.