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2-min read

Happy Birthday M Night Shyamalan: 5 Different Cinematic Universes Explored by Filmmaker

From supernatural thrillers to superhero flicks, sci-fi, or even period piece, M Night Shyamalan has dabbled in various genres and universes in his movies, however, with his own twist.

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Updated:August 6, 2019, 11:24 AM IST
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Happy Birthday M Night Shyamalan: 5 Different Cinematic Universes Explored by Filmmaker
Image courtesy: M Night Shyamalan/ Twitter
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M Night Shyamalan who is known for making films with supernatural plots and twist endings was born on August 6, 1970. The director with Indian roots started his career with Praying with Anger in 1992, has since then made movies like the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), the superhero thriller Unbreakable (2000), the science fiction thriller Signs (2002), the period piece thriller The Village (2004) and the psychological Split (2016) among others.

On the director's 49th birthday, and Sixth Sense's 20th anniversary, looking back, one can sense a pattern emerging in the way Shyamalan has explored different universes in his cinematic ventures. From supernatural thrillers to superhero flicks, sci-fi, or even period piece, the director has dabbled in various genres and universes in his movies, however, with his own twist.

Supernatural Thriller

The Sixth Sense (1999): Unlike slash and gore horror films of the 1990s, the film tells the story of Cole Sear, a boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist who tries to help him. The film not only established Shyamalan as a writer and director, but also introduced the cinemagoers to his affinity for surprise endings.

Superhero Thriller

Unbreakable (2000): While the film paralleled a comic book's traditional three-part story structure, the film followed a security guard named David Dunn who after surviving a horrific train crash with no injuries, realises he possesses superhuman abilities. The film was noted for its difference to more traditional superhero flicks and was more grounded in reality with giving characters being more grounded, and very unlike superheroes.

Science Fiction Thriller

Signs (2002): An extraterrestrial film that focuses on a former Episcopal priest named Graham Hess who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield and slowly discovers that the phenomenon is a result of extraterrestrial life, the film explored themes of faith, kinship and extra-terrestrials, often pitching one against the other. Mel Gibson played the lead in the film.

Period Piece Thriller

The Village (2004): The period piece is about a village whose population lives in constant fear of creatures inhabiting the woods beyond it. The film too had a twist ending. With themes like the fear of the unknown, religion, innocence and futility running through, Shyamalan's period drama mixes fear of the unknown with the reality of modern world to create a riveting cinematic experience.

Found-Footage Horror

The Visit (2015): Another universe, more recently explored by the director is that of the found footage horror comedy. The film traces youngsters going to live with their grandparents for a week, who turns out to be imposters out there to kill them. Well received by critics, the film has undertones of themes like abandonment and reconciliation.

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