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The Scariest Moments from M. Night Shyamalan Movies, Ranked

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The Sixth Sense

Director M. Night Shyamalan has had a tumultuous career as a director. He started off strong with films such as Praying For Anger and Wide Awake, bringing him spotlight attention as a director. Then, in a roughly five-year span, he released some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the past two decades in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs; which garnered him accolades and Oscar nominations, such as Best Director and Best Screenplay. In the same decade, in a rough eight-year stretch, Shyamalan had some films that were the exact opposite of critically acclaimed, with Avatar: The Last Airbender, Lady in the Water, and After Earth all bombing at the box office, and nearly costing him his directorial career.

In 2015, the auteur of horror rose back to popular heights, with the films The Visit, and Split, both regaining Shyamalan t he success he had early on in his career. Horror seems to be the genre Shyamalan excels in most, with Sixth Sense

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, Signs,Split, and his latest film, Old ,all being some of his best, and most terrifying works. Here are the scariest moments from M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, ranked.

Related: M. Night Shyamalan Films, Ranked.

The co-lead alongside Bruce Willis, Cole is the young boy who chaperones along with Willis in Shyamalan’s all-time classic, The Sixth Sense. A boy who can see dead people is a MacGuffin that allows for some truly terrifying filmmaking. In one of the most disturbing ones of The Sixth Sense, Cole encounters a woman in his kitchen in the middle of the night, who he thinks she is his mother, but turns out, is just a woman who has committed suicide. A theme too dark for a kid to deal with, Cole suffers an emotional breakdown after the terrifying scene with the suicide woman.

In 2016, M. Night Shyamalan introduced audiences to Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with more than twenty-four different personalities (from his dissociative identity disorder). Those other personalities take over, kidnapping three teenage girls in order to release the twenty-fourth personality known as “The Beast”, whose goal is to rid the world of the impure. Over the course of Split, the legend and suspense of the Beast is built up by the differentiating personalities holding the girls captive. In the final act (already adding to an incredible performance by James McAvoy), the Beast is unleashed.

Kevin Crumb’s eyes go psychotic, veins begin to pop out and appear as his muscles tighten, and his sharp teeth are bared, revealing the hidden monster of the film. The suspense and the acting of the transformation and the release (along with the death of the therapist) is incredibly well done, creating one of the most disturbingly scary scenes in recent Shyamalan films.

One of the lessons taught to many screenwriters in their attempts to write horror, is to hold off showing the monster/terror; instead, building the suspense of the creatures’ arrival through cinematography, audio, and other means. That’s what M. Night Shyamalan excels at in his 2004 film, The Village. Through clever camera work, keeping the horrific creatures in the shadows, and not allowing audiences to get a good look at them; to the growls of the creatures, mixed and made through audio production, all allow for the audience to build that fear of the creatures without seeing them. When they finally invade the village, the suspense and build-up pays off.

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