The Happening

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer, M Night Shyamalan
  • Writers: M Night Shyamalan
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo

In Central Park, New York City, people inexplicably begin committing mass suicide. First they become disoriented and motionless, before resorting to the most convenient means of killing themselves. Initially believed to be a bioterrorist attack, the epidemic quickly spreads across the northeastern United States.

Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), a high school science teacher in Philadelphia, receives news of the epidemic at school and decides to leave the city by train with his estranged wife, Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel), to Harrisburg. They are accompanied by his friend and a fellow math teacher Julian (John Leguizamo) and his eight-year-old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). Just after they leave New York, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia is affected by the event and people start to kill themselves around the park. Then the train mysteriously loses radio contact with civilization. Suddenly unable to contact his wife via cellphone, at a restaurant, Julian decides to leave his daughter with Elliot and Alma in order to travel to Princeton, New Jersey, to find her. It is by now clear that the epidemic is transmitted by air. Traveling in a Jeep, Julian and his fellow passengers fall victim to the epidemic soon after arriving in an already-hard-hit Princeton: the infected air filters through a small slit in the convertible’s cloth roof, compelling the driver first to bring it to a halt and then plunge it into a nearby tree. Only Julian appears to survive the crash, but, when he exits the car, apparently unharmed, he proceeds to slit his wrists with a shard of glass.

In Paris, at the conclusion of the film, the pandemic appears to reoccur when people walking through the Tuileries Garden of the Louvre Palace suddenly hear a scream and cease to move as the wind rustles through the trees and the sky turns dark.

Unbreakable

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: M Night Shyamalan, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer
  • Writers: M Night Shyamalan
  • Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is born with Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare disease in which bones break easily. As a child he is taunted by other children, who nickname him “Mr. Glass”. Drawing on what he has read in comic books during his many hospital stays, Price theorizes that if he is frail at one extreme, then perhaps there is someone strong at the opposite extreme.

Security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is also searching for meaning in his life. He gave up a promising football career to marry his love Audrey (Robin Wright Penn), but their marriage is dissolving, to the distress of their young son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). Returning from a job interview in New York, David is the sole survivor of a horrific train wreck that kills 131 of the 132 passengers, sustaining no injuries. He is contacted by the adult Elijah, who proposes to a disbelieving David that he is a real instance of the kind of person after whom comic-book superheroes are modeled. David tries to ignore him, but Elijah stalks him and his wife, trying to get his attention. David’s son Joseph already idolizes his father and easily believes his father is a superhero, but Audrey believes that Elijah Price has probably become mentally ill as a result of the stress of his frailty.

In the closing act of the film, David attends an exhibition at Elijah’s comic book art gallery and gets to meet Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard). After talking with Elijah in the back room of his studio, David shakes his hand and discovers in horror that Elijah orchestrated three fatal disasters, causing hundreds of deaths–the last being David’s train accident. Elijah insists that the deaths were justified as a means to find David. He explains that his purpose in life is to be the villain to David’s hero, even going so far as to suggest that his childhood moniker, “Mr. Glass”, should have alerted him to the fact that he was always a villain. The final captions reveal that David led police to Elijah, who was committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

The Village

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: Sam Mercer, Scott Rudin, M Night Shyamalan
  • Writers: M Night Shyamalan
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt

The movie starts out at a funeral of a child in a small village. The death date on the tombstone establishes the date as 1897. As the story progresses, it is revealed the villagers live in fear of nameless creatures in the woods that surround the village. They have built a barrier of oil lanterns and watch towers that are constantly manned to keep watch for “Those We Don’t Speak Of”. It is explained that the villagers have a long-standing truce with the monsters; the villagers do not go into their woods, and the creatures do not enter their village. Even so, dead, skinned bodies of small animals are starting to appear around the village.

After the funeral, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) asks the village elders for permission to pass through the woods to get medical supplies from “the towns”. His request is denied and, later, he is admonished by his mother, Alice (Sigourney Weaver), for wanting to go to the towns, which the villagers describe as “wicked places where wicked people live”. It is revealed in that scene that the Elders seem to keep dark secrets of their own in the form of black boxes, the contents of which they keep hidden from their own offspring. After Lucius makes a short venture into the woods, the creatures leave warnings around the village in the form of splashes of red paint (referred by the villagers only as “the bad color”) on all the villagers’ doors.

It is revealed that the village was actually founded some time in the late 1970s, when Edward Walker, professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania, approached other people he met at a grief counseling clinic after his father had been murdered. He asked them if they wished to join him in “an idea” he had. From this apparently grew “the village”, a secluded town in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with Edward’s family fortune, a place where they would be protected from any aspect of the outside world (the head ranger named “Jay” in the ranger station, played by Shyamalan seen reflected in a glass door, fills in several plot points; the Walker estate pays to maintain the ranger corps, the rangers make sure no one goes into the wildlife preserve to “disturb the animal(s)”, the Walker estate “paid off” the government to keep the entire wildlife preserve a “no-fly zone”). Once the village was created, it appears the original “Elders” rolled the clock back to the late 19th century to what they thought was a simpler, more peaceful time.

Signs

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, Sam Mercer, M Night Shyamalan
  • Writers: M Night Shyamalan
  • Genres: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin

The Hess family lives on a farm near Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a former Episcopal priest who lost his faith in God after his wife, Colleen, died in a horrific traffic accident caused by a veterinarian named Ray Reddy (played by M. Night Shyamalan). Additionally, Graham cannot come to terms with his son Morgan’s (Rory Culkin) asthma condition which causes great suffering. No longer practicing religiously, Graham and Morgan live with Graham’s daughter, Bo (Abigail Breslin), who has a strange habit of leaving unfinished glasses of water around the house, and Graham’s younger brother, Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), a former minor league baseball star who never made it to the big leagues because of a habit of swinging at whatever pitch came his way.

Things are fairly uneventful in Graham’s life until a mysterious crop circle appears in his cornfield. Its origin and purpose is unknown; some townspeople speculate that it may be a prank while a few others think that it may have been created by intelligent alien life-forms. Meanwhile, reports of violent animal behavior has spread across town, with one of the Hess’ male dogs attacking Bo and Morgan.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Graham’s farm is under watch. One night, he and Merrill chase a tall, dark figure who was spying on them from the roof of their barn. The mysterious being disappears into the crops, moving faster and disappearing far more easily than anyone can explain. Soon Graham and his family are shocked to learn that similar crop circles have suddenly appeared all over the world in ways too quickly to be merely a grand, elaborate hoax. Morgan takes a liking to a sheriff’s radio walkie-talkie and she tells him that he can use a baby monitor but it will only work one way. He finds Bo has an old baby monitor in the basement and decides to take it into town. On their return home, strange noises resembling bubbling and clicking come from the baby monitor. Morgan, believing the sound to be aliens talking, climbs on the car roof to get a better signal, but the noises soon go away.

Realizing that Colleen’s dying words meant something after all, and that they actually saved his remaining family’s life, Graham’s faith is restored. The final scene shows winter weather outside as Graham is back in his clerical suit preparing for church.

The Last Airbender

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Sam Mercer, Scott Aversano, M Night Shyamalan
  • Writers: Screenplay, M Night Shyamalan, Original Story, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
  • Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Noah Ringer, Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel

The Fire Nation is waging a ruthless, oppressive war against the other three nations. The film’s hero, the reluctant young Aang (Noah Ringer), is the “Last Airbender” — the Avatar, who, according to prophecy, has the ability to manipulate all of the elements and bring all the nations together. Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her bull-headed brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world.