***SPOILER ALERT*** If you haven’t seen Split or Unbreakable
When people say the name of director M. Night Shyamalan, some find it hard to take him seriously. And when his name shows up on an upcoming film release, audiences are quick to judge. You may find yourself laughing at a new trailer for his latest film or dismissing it when the poster is displayed in the movie theater. Unfortunately, Shyamalan had become a laughingstock in the movie industry for quite some time. People would joke about his consistent use of twist endings or parody his style of filmmaking. When he made a name for himself back in 1999 with the release of his breakout supernatural drama The Sixth Sense, audiences and critics alike hailed the film as a near masterpiece of cinema. Expectations were set high for his career and some even went as far as to call him the next Alfred Hitchcock. He followed the film with 3 more successes in 2000’s Unbreakable, 2002’s Signs and the financially successful The Village in 2004. And while I’d make a case for the latter, many found 2004 to be the start of his down spiral into mediocrity.
Films like Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth were all received with highly negative criticism and general disdain. His name was tarnished and he lost a lot of Hollywood credibility. But in 2015, he returned to form with the low budget found footage horror film The Visit. Although the film received mixed reviews through its financial profit, many found it to be a step in the right direction as it represented the style of his earlier works. But earlier this year, he released his first major hit film in over a decade grossing over 30 times its budget.
Split follows the story of 3 young girls who are kidnapped by an unstable man (played brilliantly by James McAvoy) with multiple personalities. He is later revealed to possess enhanced strength and the ability to withstand any physical harm. The thriller received overwhelmingly positive feedback and is considered to be Shyamalan’s comeback. But what really brought attention to this film was the surprise reveal in the credit scene. As our villain makes his final appearance in the supernatural ending, the film goes to credits before cutting to a diner displaying TV news coverage of the film’s events. Two viewers begin discussing the similarity to previous events before Bruce Willis shows up reprising his character of David Dunn from Unbreakable to correct them mentioning the name of “Mr. Glass”. That’s right, Split is a sequel to Unbreakable and nobody saw it coming!
For those unfamiliar with Unbreakable, it was Shyamalan’s 2000 drama about a security guard (Willis) who discovers he has super human abilities through unbreakable skin, heightened senses and enhanced strength. Samuel L. Jackson plays his “mentor” who discovers his abilities while going by the nickname of Mr. Glass. It was basically a superhero movie set in a real world environment. Now that Shyamalan has announced the follow-up to be his next film, it will cross over these two super powered characters with McAvoy taking the role of supervillain.
Very little is known about the film at this time, but a title and release date have been given via Shyamalan’s Twitter account yesterday. It will be entitled Glass (in reference to the Unbreakable character of that name) with a release date of January 18, 2019. Unbreakable stars Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson and Split stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy are set to reprise their roles. Shyamalan has said in multiple interviews that the Split villain was originally written to appear in the first movie back in 2000, so it makes perfect sense to pick up the pen again and finish what he started. Who knew that a movie that came out 17 years ago under a different studio would finally receive a continuation? The big announcement from the director online had the internet going crazy. As a fan of both films myself, I can’t wait to see how he will bring these two films together into one exciting conclusion. Shyamalan is on his way back to former glory, so there is a lot hinging on this one. Let’s hope he can surprise us all once again.