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M. Night Shyamalan Reveals The Secret To A Great Movie Ending

M. Night Shyamalan, a director famous for storytelling twists, shares his thoughts on what it really means to compose a great ending to a movie.

M. Night Shyamalan opens up about his philosophy on what goes into making a great ending to a movie. The horror director, whose filmography includes both modern classics like The Sixth Sense and Signs, and critically-panned features such as The Happening and The Last Airbender, is both famous and infamous for his major plot twists. His next movie, Knock at the Cabin, is set to release in February 2023 and stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, and Rupert Grint.


Speaking with Jake Hamilton, Shyamalan speaks candidly on the fundamentals of a good ending to any cinematic story while promoting his Apple TV+ original series Servant ahead of season 4. Knock at the Cabin will be Shyamalan’s fifteenth feature film, and given that his last movie (2021’s Old) continued his trademark tendency for eleventh-hour twists, viewers are already speculating as to how he might end things this time. According to Shyamalan himself, however, the secret to a good ending is exceedingly simple. He says:

“What you’re left with at the end of the movie should tell you what you saw…When you stick the landing you’re giving them the keys to how to interpret everything that you watched, and I’m not just talking about plot. I’m talking about tone and the approach…When it’s blurry, or you pick only one aspect of it, it throws you off because it’s not speaking to the whole piece, the whole story.”

Related: Knock At The Cabin Could Be Shyamalan’s Riskiest Film Yet

M. Night Shyamalan Has Made Twist Endings His Career Trademark

Cole standing in front of Malcolm in The Sixth Sense

In essence, Shyamalan makes clear his belief in the power an ending has to massively recontextualize the story that came before it, and so he endeavors to treat it with due respect. Shyamalan made his name with his third feature, 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which is widely considered to have one of the most iconic plot twists in movie history. Out of the fifteen films he has directed, nine have featured major plot twists, predominantly found in the third act. While some have satisfied audiences and critics (Unbreakable, Split), others have proven more divisive (The Village, The Lady in the Water), though little damage seems to have been done to Shyamalan’s ability to attract audiences to his latest horror shows down the years.

To audiences, the very expectation of a forthcoming twist is effectively part of the experience of a Shyamalan movie itself. This is comparable to how MCU fans reliably sit through the end credits of every Marvel movie with the expectation that a post-credit scene will tease future projects, cameos, or narrative threads. Few other filmmakers can be said to have such a specific relationship with their audience as Shyamalan, to the extent that their movies actually affect the typical behavior of that audience.

With Knock at the Cabin telling the story of a family taken hostage and forced to choose a human sacrifice to avert a coming apocalypse, audiences can expect a classic horror movie setup to receive a classic Shyamalan treatment. The film is also an adaptation of The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, which ends on an ambiguous note about whether the apocalypse is really pending. This ambiguity certainly leaves Shyamalan with ample creative license to end his adaptation however he feels best serves the story in its entirety.

Next: M. Night Shyamalan’s Joke Frasier Theory Is Secretly Perfect

Source: Jake’s Takes

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