M. Night Shyamalan talked about his relative philosophy on what makes a good movie ending.
The director, whose filmography includes modern classics like The Sixth Sense and Signs as well as not-so-well-received films like The Happening and The Last Airbender, is famous for the twists and turns in his films.
His next film, Knock at the Cabin, will be released on February 3, 2023 and stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Rupert Grint.
M. Night Shyamalan, an absolute master of twists and turns
In a conversation with Jake Hamilton, Shyamalan details the fundamentals of a good ending to any cinematic story.
“The ending of a film is essential. Basically, you give the audience the key to interpreting the film. I’m talking, in this case, about tone and approach. When it’s unclear, or you choose to focus on just one aspect, you take it out of context,” said M. Night Shyamalan.
Shyamalan first came to prominence with his third feature, 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which is considered one of the iconic films of the period.
Of the fifteen films he directed, nine of them featured major twists, predominantly found in the third act.
While some endings pleased audiences and critics (e.g. Unbreakable, Split), others less so (e.g. He Village, The Lady in the Water).
So, given that M. Night Shyamalan has accustomed us to twists and turns, Knock at the Cabin will have to follow this recipe to work.
Knock at the Cabin tells the story of a family that is taken hostage and forced to make a human sacrifice to avert an apocalypse. So, here’s a scenario that leaves room for interpretation, but also an ending that audiences can’t easily predict.
The film is adapted from The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, which ends on an ambiguous note. Consequently, M. Night Shyamalan can play with creative license as he pleases.