15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Directed by Manoj Nelliyattu (“Knight”) Shyamalan is a director, writer, producer, a master of psychological horror, a lover of puzzles, mysticism, metaphors, sentiment, unexpected plot twists and multiple levels of meaning.

М. Knight Shyamalan acts as a producer for most of his projects (there are still very few of them, but hopefully it’s only “for now”). He also likes to appear in a movie in a small role.

We offer you a selection of the best directorial works of this American unicum with Indian roots, who has given wonderful hours of leisure to connoisseurs of mystical thrillers.

Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin
  • IMDB Rating – 6.1
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Production: USA / 2023
  • Budget: $20,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $54,760,947
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Dave Batista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Eldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn, Kristen Tsui, McKenna Kerrigan, Ian Merrill Peakes.

Shyamalan’s most recent and marvelously layered mystery is “Knockin’ on the Cabin,” a movie at the intersection of family drama, biblical parable, apocalyptic sci-fi and home invasion thriller. It all begins with an idyllic, sunny scene of a cute little girl playing with a grasshopper in the grass …

Eric and Andrew live in a summer country house and are raising their adopted daughter Wen. Then one day, four men dressed in the colors of the infamous Horsemen of the Apocalypse knock seven times on the door of the house. They are armed with some kind of drekel and friendly declare to the owners that they must voluntarily kill someone in the family or humanity will be destroyed.

The movie has already become a box office hit worldwide and, incidentally, this is the first adaptation of one of Paul Tremblay’s works.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 5.8
  • Genre: Thriller, Drama, Fantasy
  • Production: USA, Japan, China / 2021
  • Budget: $18,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $90,146,510
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Lee, Aaron Pierre, Alex Wolfe, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen.

A spooky adventure with a most unexpected ending awaits you in this Shyamalan production, which he directed based on the graphic novel “Sandcastle” by Levy and Peters.

A married couple on the verge of a breakup are vacationing on a closed beach that the hotel manager has given them for a day. They are joined by several other proudly privileged couples with children. And it soon becomes clear that time on this beach flows a thousand times faster than in reality.

The song that Maddox sings along to at the beginning of the movie was written and sung by the director’s daughter, Saleka Shyamalan.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 7.3
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Detective
  • Production: USA / 2000
  • Budget: $75,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $248,118,121
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Spencer Trit Clarke, Charlaine Woodard, Eamonn Walker, Leslie Stefanson, Johnny Hiram Jamieson, Michelia Carroll, Bostin Christopher.

In 2000, Shyamalan directed his first superhero movie, Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis. The main character is David Dunn, a survivor of a terrible accident, who discovers he has superpowers with the help of Elijah Price, “Mr. Glass”.

The second part of the trilogy, “Split” is a brilliant movie about becoming a villain that received high ratings around the world. The plot centers on Kevin Crumb, who suffers from multiple split personality disorder. The third movie “Glass” is the story of Dunn and Elijah’s hunt for Kevin Crumb.

The role of David Dunn director offered Willis during the filming of “The Sixth Sense”, even then working on the script of the first movie.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Servant (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 7.4
  • Genre: Thriller, Drama, Detective, Fantasy
  • Production: USA / 2019
  • Worldwide box office receipts: $375,252
  • Directed by Ishana Shyamalan, Nimrod Antal, M. Night Shyamalan
  • Starring: Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free, Rupert Grint, James Hoogerwerff, Jack Hoogerwerff, Phillip James Brannon, Kayden Ravenscroft, Luca Ravenscroft, Tony Revolori

Several seasons of a true psychological nightmare created by Tony Basgallop and M. Night Shyamalan. The latter acted as showrunner, producer and director of many episodes.

The premise of the project is already insanely intriguing. A wealthy Turner couple hires 18-year-old nanny Leanne Grayson for their child. Doesn’t sound too daunting, unless you know that their precious child is nothing but a naturalistic, suddenly brought to life doll. There’s a thrillingly confusing devilishness awaiting everyone involved in this story.

Incidentally, a few episodes were directed by Ishani Knight, Shyamalan’s talented daughter.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

The Visit

The Visit
  • IMDB Rating – 6.2
  • Genre: Horror
  • Production: USA / 2015
  • Budget: $5,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $98,450,062
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Olivia DeJong, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Samuel Stricklen, Patrick Darro, Jorge Cordova, Steve Annan

Shyamalan directed and wrote this horror movie. Two teenagers, brother Tyler and sister Becca, go on a week-long visit to their mother’s parents, with whom she hasn’t spoken in years.

The initially cordial old folks quickly become intimidating, not allowing the kids to leave the room after half past ten and behaving like unreasoning, violent lunatics at night.

The children call their mother, who suddenly discovers that the two old men are not her parents. The mother rushes off to rescue her offspring, but the fake grandparents, meanwhile, are up to a creepy game.

It is Shyamalan’s lowest-budget movie, paying off almost 20 times in its first few weeks at the box office.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Wayward Pines (TV show)

Wayward Pines
  • IMDB Rating – 7.3
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Detective
  • Production: USA / 2015
  • Director: Jeff T. Thomas, Zal Batmanglij, Tim Hunter, M. Night Shyamalan
  • Starring: Matt Dillon, Siobhan Fallon, Toby Jones, Shannyn Sossamon, Hope Davis, Tom Stevens, Charlie Tahan, Carla Guccino, Melissa Leo, Jason Patric.

A brilliant thriller with high ratings, produced by Shyamalan. However, he directed only the very first episode of the series, but significantly influenced the entire project.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke is looking for his missing colleagues in the backwoods of Idaho. He gets into an accident, in a semi-conscious state gets to the nearest town and comes to his senses in the local hospital.

A nurse welcomes him to the town of Wayward Pines and together with the doctor persuades him to stay here for a while to recover from his wounds. But Ethan is called by his duty, but getting out of this strange settlement turns out to be an impossible task.

The series is based on Blake Crouch’s books, while at the same time Shyamalan acknowledged that Crouch drew heavily on the plot of the iconic Twin Peaks series. The title of each episode is a phrase from the series itself.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

After Earth

After Earth
  • IMDB Rating – 4.8
  • Genre: Fantastic, Adventure, Action Movie
  • Production: USA / 2013
  • Budget: $130,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $243,611,982
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo, Zoe Kravitz, Glenn Morshower, Christopher Heavey, Sasha Dhawan, Chris Geere, Diego Klattenhoff, David Denman

A fantasy film starring Will Smith and his son Jaden, set in a post-apocalyptic universe. Shyamalan directed, co-wrote the script and produced.

A thousand years after mankind has left the devastated Earth, a spaceship drops onto its surface, which is once again forested and a haven for prehistoric flora and fauna, carrying father and son Reiji and their cargo, a ravenous beast created to destroy a rival alien race, freed in an accident. And now survival becomes a major concern for Cypher and China Ragee.

Funny enough, Will Smith was responsible for much of the script in this movie, as was the acting of his son, whom he personally coached. But when critics derided the plot and the acting, Shyamalan took the blame.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender
  • IMDB Rating – 4.0
  • Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Family
  • Production: USA / 2010
  • Budget: $150,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $319,713,881
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz Beckham, Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, Seychell Gabriel, Katherine Haughton, Francis Guinan

Shyamalan’s cute, albeit slightly childish adaptation of Nickelodeon’s cult series Avatar, created as an experiment, was a pleasant surprise for fans of the original series, though many expressed displeasure with the characters’ European looks.

In the fantasy world live four peoples who possess different elements. One day the Fire People unleash a war that can only be stopped by the chosen boy Aang, who can curb any element. Of course, everyone is after him: the fire worshippers want to get him as a warrior, and the others need a protector from the aggression of fierce flames.

The original plan was to make a trilogy of Aang movies, but although the first movie paid off, the collections were deemed insufficient and the project was shut down. However, Netflix may be picking up the project soon.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

The Happening

The Happening
  • IMDB Rating – 5.0
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Adventure
  • Production: India, USA / 2008
  • Budget: $48,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $163,403,799
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Betty Buckley, Spencer Breslin, Robert Bailey Jr, Frank Collison, Jeremy Strong, Alan Ruck

As is his custom, Shyamalan throws the viewer right into the thick of things, leaving him to wade through the jumble of meanings, unhurriedly answering questions and pondering the confrontation between man and an angry nature.

Mark Wahlberg plays the lead role of Elliot Moore, a teacher who is faced with the frightening phenomenon of mass suicides that no one can explain. He tries to save his family by fleeing far away from the scene of the main events, at the same time trying to solve the mystery of the strange phenomenon.

Shyamalan wrote the script specifically for Mark Wahlberg, and the latter was later embarrassed for trying to play an intellectual rather than a cop or a fighter.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Lady in the Water

Lady in the Water
  • IMDB Rating – 5.5
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Detective
  • Production: USA / 2006
  • Budget: $70,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $72,785,169
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban, Sarita Chowdhry, Cindy Cheung, M. Night Shyamalan, Freddie Rodriguez, Bill Irwin, Mary Beth Hurt.

Many critics consider this fantasy thriller to be Shyamalan’s biggest failure. But not those who like this director or unusual stories. From the vivid imagination of an unusual director and writer, an unusual tale of a girl from a magical world lost in our reality unfolds before us.

Hip, the caretaker of an apartment building, finds in his apartment complex a nymph Story, who came here from another world with a special mission. The girl has to find a writer (played, by the way, by M. Knight himself), whose future book will affect both worlds.

Shyamalan based the movie on a bedtime story he wrote and told to his children. The film was accompanied by a novelization.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

The Village

The Village
  • IMDB Rating – 6.6
  • Genre: Thriller, Melodrama
  • Production: USA / 2004
  • Budget: $60,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $256,697,520
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson, Cherry Jones, Celia Weston, John Christopher Jones, Frank Collison.

A fantastic thriller with an incredible cast, mesmerizing in its depth. And again by Shyamalan’s will we find ourselves in an outlandish place, living by strange rules, right in the thick of things. So, somewhere deep in the forests of 19th century Pennsylvania stands the small isolated village of Covington.

The woods around it are teeming with the Unnamed, flesh-eating creatures with whom the village has a pact: humans don’t roam the woods, the creatures don’t destroy the village. But one day a certain Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) seeks permission from the elders – to go out into the big world and get the medicine the local children so desperately need…

An almost real village in the forest was laid out for the movie. Shyamalan led all the actors through a kind of “19th century survival camp”, and the design of the forest creatures was redesigned several times.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies


  • IMDB Rating – 6.8
  • Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Drama, Detective
  • Production: USA / 2002
  • Budget: $72,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $408,247,917
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones, M. Night Shyamalan, Patricia Kalember, Ted Sutton, Merritt Weaver, Lanny Flaherty.

In every movie, M. Night Shyamalan, like many directors, leaves a personal presence. The birth stories of the main character’s children are the stories of the director’s offspring. The artwork for the book about aliens was done by his daughter. And he himself played a small role as Ray’s doctor.

And overall, Signs is a movie about aliens. Somewhere in the cornfields of Pennsylvania lives the family of a former minister, a single father of two children. One day he discovers flat circles of mowed corn in his crops, and strange things start happening around the farm.

Shyamalan was secretive about the script, forcing the actors to improvise, with himself confessing much later that “Signs” was his easiest work.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense
  • IMDB Rating – 8.2
  • Genre: Detective, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller, Drama
  • Production: USA / 1999
  • Budget: $40,000,000
  • Worldwide box office receipts: $672,806,292
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Jeffrey Zubernis, Bruce Norris, Glenn Fitzgerald.

Shyamalan’s fully authored creation, an incredible ghost movie with Bruce Willis as a child psychologist, insanely touching in his love for his wife and attention to other people’s children. Try not to look at the reviews of the movie to get a lot of emotions from the unexpected ending.

Psychologist Malcolm Crowe starts working with a new patient, a boy named Cole, who sees the dead. He is laughed at by everyone around him, and his mother is puzzled by the problem. Cole himself thinks he may be going mad, and closes in deeper and deeper. Gradually, a friendship develops between the doctor and the child, and the atmosphere of anxiety in the movie grows and pours with emotion…

The movie hit the top box office lists, became a box office hit, was nominated for all major cinematic awards, and premiered on Shyamalan’s birthday.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Wide Awake

Wide Awake
  • IMDB Rating – 5.9
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy, Family
  • Production: USA / 1998
  • Budget: $6,000,000
  • US box office receipts:$282,175
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: Joseph Cross, Timothy Reifsnyder, Dana Delaney, Denis Leary, Robert Lodge, Rosie O’Donnell, Camryn Menheim, Vicki Giunta, Julia Stiles, Heather Kasler.

Eight years before Shyamalan became internationally known with The Sixth Sense, in 1991, he wrote a screenplay about a boy searching for God. In 1995, his first American film, “Awakening,” was ready for distribution, though it didn’t get the opportunity to be released until 1998. Almost no one paid attention to this small work of an aspiring director, and perhaps very much in vain.

Ten-year-old Joshua Beale after the death of his beloved grandfather tries to understand why good people die and how to cope with the loss. He begins his own search for God to get answers. This is the story of a child trying to come to terms with death, and it’s crafted with a subtle, gentle humor that doesn’t get bogged down in gloom, and with a fair amount of touching sentimentality.

The movie was produced by Harvey Weinstein. The film made The Telegraph’s 2017 humor list under the title “Harvey Scissorhands” as one of those that Weinstein mangled in post-production.

15 Best M. Night Shyamalan Movies

Praying with Anger

Praying with Anger
  • IMDB Rating – 4.5
  • Genre: drama, comedy
  • Production: USA / 1992
  • Budget: $750,000
  • Director: M. Knight Shyamalan
  • Starring: M. Night Shyamalan, Mike Muthu, K. Subramanian, Arun Balachandran, Richa Ahuja, Christabal Howie, Sushma Ahuja, Upajit Singh, SK Veeraghavan, S. N. Parvathy.

Shyamalan’s first feature, which he made immediately after graduating from New York Film School. Here he is not only the director, producer and screenwriter, but also the lead actor. It can hardly be called a serious work this study of two cultures, Indian and American, but for fans of the director his first movie will definitely become a gem of the collection.

Shyamalan’s character is Dev, an American with Indian roots, who goes to India to study for a while on a cultural exchange program. He explores his roots, encounters the East’s dislike of the Western way of life, and makes friends. The movie already shows the characteristic techniques of the future cult director, but the movie itself, unfortunately, can only be found in poor quality: no other film has been preserved.

It is the director’s only movie whose events take place in India. It was screened exclusively at film festivals and even earned an award at the 1993 AFI Fest.

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Анна Румянцева
Anna Rumyantseva

Author, editor and filmmaker.

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