12 M. Night Shyamalan Films Ranked (And Where to Stream Them)

Night Shyamalan has quite a track record of movies under his belt. Some of his films are great, some so unbelievably horrible that they are commonly ranked as some of the worst movies ever made. He’s made thrillers, superhero movies, anime adaptations, and alien invasion movies, all with his signature style of plot twists and edge-of-your seat suspense.

Whether you enjoy his movies or not, the director might just be the closest thing we have today to Alfred Hitchcock’s successor, although admittedly Shyamalan’s filmography isn’t nearly as impressive as old Hitch’s.

12 M. Night Shyamalan Films Ranked (And Where to Stream Them)

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) Gael García Bernal and M. Night Shyamalan on the set of Old | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

With his newest movie, Old, just released not long ago, we thought we’d take a look at M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, rank them from worst to best, and provide information about where you’re currently able to stream them.

List Criteria: We did leave out a few of Shyamalan’s lesser-known movies that you don’t typically associate with the director, such as his earlier films like the 1992 family drama, Praying with Anger, and his 1998 comedy, Wide Awake. However, we decided to include two of his more (in)famous non-thriller films (The Last Airbender and After Earth) just because of how closely tied they are to Shyamalan’s name.

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan, Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz, and Noah Ringer | Courtesy of Zade Rosenthal/Paramount Pictures

The Last Airbender

Fans of the incredibly popular American-made anime series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, weren’t just disappointed with Shyamalan’s 2010 adaptation of the show–they were crushed. Adapting an entire television series into an hour and forty-five minute movie is never easy, but longtime Avatar fans who saw Shyamalan’s movie believed the movie completely butchered their beloved Nickelodeon cult favorite.

Upon its release, Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender was seen as not only one of the worst movies of the year, but one of the worst movies ever made period. Fans and critics blasted the movie for its horrendous screenplay, CGI, acting, and the numerous liberties the movie took in adapting the series from its source material.

The movie was even considered highly racist for its whitewashed casting, making it also an uncomfortable movie to watch as well. The Last Airbender ended up winning the Golden Raspberry’s big three awards (Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay) in 2010, and it’s honestly a miracle Shyamalan’s career survived.

Currently Streaming on Netflix

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan, Jaden Smith, and Will Smith | Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

After Earth

Coming off a string of critical failures, M. Night Shyamalan’s 2013 After Earth feels the least like an actual Shyamalan movie. A more straightforward science fiction movie, After Earth follows a high-ranking member of a peacekeeping organization (Will Smith) and his son (Jaden Smith) who crash land on Earth centuries after the planet has been abandoned. It’s hard to name which movie is definitively Shyamalan’s worst, but After Earth might be a closer runner-up.

Lambasted by critics, the film suffered greatly from accusations of nepotism regarding Jaden Smith’s role in the movie, and was criticized for its hidden message supposedly advocating for Scientology, After Earth may just take the cake for Shyamalan’s absolute worst movie, with even Will Smith calling the movie “the most painful failure” of his career.

Currently Streaming on Starz, Hulu, and Prime Video (requires premium subscription for Hulu and Prime)

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) Zooey Deschanel, Mark Wahlberg, and M. Night Shyamalan | Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Happening

Shyamalan’s first big-budget R-rated movie, this 2008 psychological thriller starring Mark Walhberg and Zooey Deschanel was a huge critical failure for Shyamalan, earning him multiple Golden Raspberry Award nominations (an accolade he’d either be nominated for or win numerous times throughout his career) and coming in eighth on Empire magazine’s “50 Worst Movies of All Time.”

The plot follows a science teacher, his wife, and their young daughter trying to escape a natural phenomenon causing people to commit mass suicides. Panned for its story and laughably bad performances from the cast, The Happening was yet another career-low for Shyamalan, with Wahlberg himself labeling it “a really bad movie” while promoting The Fighter.

More recently, the movie has been gaining traction as a parody of 1950s’ B-movies designed to be “intentionally bad”–but with how downright poorly made this movie is in virtually every aspect, it’s doubtful Shyamalan planned it to be this bad (although if he had, he is much better director than we give him credit for).

Currently streaming on Peacock

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and Paul Giamatti | Courtesy of Everett Collection

Lady in the Water

Yet another of Shyamalan’s films that was nominated in several categories in 2006’s Golden Raspberries (with Shyamalan winning for Worst Director and Worst Supporting Actor), Lady in the Water was another flop for Shyamalan. Starring Paul Giamitti and Bryce Dallas Howard, the film follows an apartment complex superintendent who discovers a young woman swimming in his pool is in fact a mythical fairy tale creature. Working with his tenants, the man tries to return the woman to her world, all the while an evil, mystical animal from the woman’s realm tries to prevent them from doing so.

It’s a promising premise, one that would probably make for a great children’s story, but the problem with Lady in the Water is it doesn’t seem to know who its audience is. Serious, dark, and humorless, Lady in the Water bombed at the box office, only grossing $72.8 million on a $70 million budget, with critics equally panning the movie.

Currently Streaming on Hulu and Prime Video (requires a premium subscription for both)

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) Bruce Willis and M. Night Shyamalan | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Glass

The third and final entry in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy, Glass spelled a potential career resurgence for Shyamalan after the success of Split. Fans and critics alike expressed enthusiasm at the idea of a crossover between Split and Unbreakable–two of Shyamalan’s most popular movies–but unfortunately, Glass itself didn’t live up to the hype.

Packing perhaps too much content into one movie, critics complained about Glass’s unnecessary twist ending, and its significant reduction of Unbreakable’s protagonist, played by Bruce Willis, and Split’s protagonist, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, both of whom returned for this film. While not the worst movie in Shyamalan’s canon, it still reveals that Shyamalan might make his best movies when people least expect it, with the director prone to buckling under the pressure when too much anticipation is put on him.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent on Prime Video

M. Night Shyamalan Films
M. Night Shyamalan | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Old

Shyamalan’s most recent movie, Old is a claustrophobic thriller with a very outside-the-box approach, featuring time itself as the main villain. Loosely adapted from the graphic novel, Sandcastle, Old focuses on a family spending a day on a remote beach, only to discover that they are aging rapidly each hour they spend there.

Not quite as great as some of Shyamalan’s previous movies, but definitely not as terrible as some of his others, Old features an entertaining exploration of time progression, and wonderfully builds a sense of time literally running out throughout its hour and forty-five-minute length.

Not currently streaming, find showtimes now

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and Adrien Brody | Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

The Village

The first in what would become an eleven-year-long slump in Shyamalan’s career, The Village was the director’s first critical failure after gaining prominence as a brave new voice in Hollywood. Featuring a fantastic cast that includes actors like Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, and Sigourney Weaver, The Village tells the story of a small, isolationist farming community in what is believed to be 19th century Pennsylvania who are terrorized by strange, folkloric creatures who live in the surrounding woods.

The film received mixed reviews upon its release, notably its controversial twist ending, which was initially viewed as disappointing, though has grown favorably in recent years after critical re-evaluations.

Currently Streaming on Peacock

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and Ed Oxenbould | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Visit

Shyamalan’s return to form, The Visit was the movie that helped relaunch interest in his long-stagnated career after over a decade of negatively received films. The Visit is unique among Shyamalan’s filmography in what would perhaps be the director’s most unconventional movie. The Visit tells the story of two young teens who spend the weekend with their estranged grandparents, who begin expressing increasingly disturbing behavior as the visit progresses.

Blending horror with comedy and using a “found-footage” approach that Shyamalan had never previously tried, The Visit is a great movie that will have you nervously laughing and twisting uncomfortably in your seat from scene to scene. Using a much smaller budget and featuring a cast of lesser-known actors, The Visit can be seen as a highlight of Shyamalan’s later career, showing just how well he thrives when no one is expecting it.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent on Prime Video

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and Abigail Breslin | Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

Signs

Known for its notoriously abrupt, disappointing ending (a trait that many of Shyamalan’s films unfortunately share) the first two acts of Signs truly show just how masterful Shyamalan is at building suspense. Like many of Shyamalan’s movies, Signs takes place in rural Pennsylvania, following a former priest who has lost his faith (Mel Gibson) and his family who begin to believe alien life may be lurking in their cornfield.

Signs showed Shyamalan at pretty much the top of his game, brilliantly using each scene to build up the creepiness levels until the movie turns into a straight-out horror movie. As weak as its conclusion is, Signs is a fantastic alien invasion horror movie, but also offers a great exploration of faith, family, and loss.

Currently Streaming on Peacock

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and James McAvoy | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Split

The movie responsible for cementing Shyamalan’s grand return as a noteworthy director, Split is a very smart, very well-done psychological thriller that audiences loved. Following his previous sleeper hit, The Visit, Split follows a man (James McAvoy) with 24 different personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls, imprisoning them in a hidden underground hideout in Philadelphia.

Not only was it an original concept, but the movie also featured some incredible performances by McAvoy and costar Anya Taylor-Joy, but Split’s unique ending revealed itself to be a spinoff to Unbreakable, making it one of the most out-of-nowhere sequels in movie history.

A strong second movie in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy, this was a true prodigal return for the once-promising director who had fallen on hard times, and was very positively received by audiences and critics alike.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent on Prime Video

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) M. Night Shyamalan and Samuel L. Jackson | Courtesy of Frank Masi/Touchstone Pictures

Unbreakable

Shyamalan’s followup to his hugely successful previous movie, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable was one of the most innovative superhero movies released a decade before the genre was dominated by Marvel and DC films. More a character study than a straightforward action film, Unbreakable features Bruce Willis giving perhaps the best performance of his career as David Dunn, a man who miraculously survives a horrific train accident, leading him to believe he possesses superhuman abilities.

Though the movie has a somewhat abrupt ending, Unbreakable was praised by critics for its screenplay, characters, and performances, including Willis’s and a fantastic portrayal of the comic book-obsessed, wheelchair-bound Mr. Glass, brilliantly played by Samuel L. Jackson. It’s one of Shyamalan’s finest movies, and easily the best in his Unbreakable trilogy.

Currently Streaming on Peacock

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) Bruce Willis and M. Night Shyamalan | Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

The Sixth Sense

Shyamalan’s first big-budget Hollywood movie and far and away his most successful, The Sixth Sense is the director at his absolute best. A scary, emotional supernatural psychological thriller, The Sixth Sense stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist whose newest patient (Haley Joel Osmont) is able to communicate with the dead.

Famous now for its great twist ending (something that would later become synonymous with Shyamalan’s career), The Sixth Sense was an overwhelming success, earning several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. A financial success as well (it grossed over $670 million on a $40 million budget), The Sixth Sense is easily Shyamalan’s best movie, and one of his most iconic ones as well.

Currently Streaming on Peacock

M. Night Shyamalan Films
(L-R) Samuel L. Jackson, M. Night Shyamalan, James McAvoy, and Bruce Willis | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Final Thoughts

Nobody’s really had a career quite like M. Night Shyamalan. When his career first began, he was regarded as one of the greatest new directors of suspense and horror in years. However, after a career slump that lasted just over ten years, fans of Shyamalan’s work would have to wait till 2015’s The Visit to see the director return to his former prominence.

Few directors have been nominated for an Oscar so early in their career and then also make some of the worst movies of the 21st century like Shyamalan has. His career, like his work, is unpredictable and full of surprises. For anyone interested in Shyamalan’s movies, we hope this ranking of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies and where to stream them offers a helpful view of the director’s work, helping clarify which movies of his you’d like to see and which ones to avoid at all costs.

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Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).