The sky is blue, water is wet, and M. Night Shyamalan is going to use a plot twist to tell a story. Them’s are just the rules of the universe, folks. Although it is true that the writer/director often traffics in the thriller genre, a house practically built on plot twists, it’s inarguable that ever since The Sixth Sense put Shyamalan on the map the filmmaker has used the art of the misdirect in all of his most notable tales. That’s not inherently a bad thing! Shyamalan’s twists run the complete gamut from painfully ineffective to shockingly great, with a stop for pretty much every other layer of quality in-between. With Glass—a movie that was birthed from a plot twist itself—headed into theaters on January 18, I thought it was the perfect time to revisit Shyamalan’s resume and see just where all these twists fall.
Now, keep in mind, this is a ranking of the twists, not a ranking of the films itself; if it was, you’d all have to get mad at me for putting Signs at number 1 because Joaquin Phoenix in a tinfoil hat brings me unmeasurable joy. Also important to note: Although we all love discussing Avatar: The Last Airbender and After Earth, neither really has a twist worth talking about. Shyamalan wrote the twist in Devil—the old lady is Satan, a pretty gnarly twist!—but director John Erick Dowdle executed it, so that’s not included. Finally, I truly believe the only twist in Lady in the Water is the fact no one in M. Night Shyamalan’s life gently told him that scripting yourself into a movie as a universe-changing writer might be a bad idea.
With all that out of the way, here are the many plot twists of M. Night Shyamalan’s career, ranked from worst to best. This piece includes *spoilers* for The Happening, The Sixth Sense, Signs, Split, Unbreakable, and The Visit. I mean, duh.