"What a twist!" I can't get through any M. Night Shyamalan movie without hearing that infamous quote from Robot Chicken in my mind, which is a spoof on his storytelling style (I think its a meme now). I had the opportunity to watch an advanced screening of Glass and can safely say that the quote continues to apply, but perhaps for different reasons.
Let me preface by saying I missed the first 10 minutes of the film because I was unfortunately off doing "doctor things". You see, that is my alter ego when I am not busy geeking out about music and movie related things on the Internet. But seriously, shout out to the girl running the screening who gave up her seat so I could sit next to my wife despite being late.
I remember when Shyamalan's Unbreakable, the first film in the trilogy, was released in 2000. I was stoked to watch a superhero origin film told from a different perspective. I admit I was a little weirded out Shyamalan decided to cast Bruce Willis as lead in yet another one of his feature films after his blockbuster thriller The Sixth Sense (I just couldn't picture Willis playing a superhero and was dreading the thought of seeing him in spandex). Willis plays boring security guard, David Dunn, who slowly pieces together he is not like other people after being sole survivor of a train accident. He gets help recognizing his superhero potential from comic book nerd, Elijah Price (played by Samuel L. Jackson). Price turns out to be the antagonist as well as the reason behind Dunn's brush initial brush with death. "What a twist!" The acting and storyline were great, and what I think made things more believable was the absence of CGI or silly superpowers like flying or talking to fish.
Fast-forward through many Shyamalan flops (except Signs of course) to 2016, which saw the arrival of the random psychological thriller, Split. He introduces us to Kevin Wendall Crumb and his 20+ distinct personalities that come along with him. Crumb (played by James McAvoy) suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID), otherwise known as multiple personality disorder, and every time a personality "steps into the light", they take over Crumb. The personalities all appear to serve and worship a god-like personality they call "The Beast". Although it may be somewhat hilarious to watch McAvoy step into character for some of his personalities, my favorite is 9-year-old Hedwig who loves hip-hop; the film still carries some serious undertones. For example, Crumb and the protagonist, Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), both have traumatic histories of child abuse, which may be why they possess a deeper connection. It seemed like Shyamalan got his groove back with this one. The end of the film is where we figure out that Unbreakable takes place in the same universe as Split when we catch a glimpse of Bruce Willis as David Dunn in a diner. "What a twist!"
Now for the scoop about Glass: it was bit of a let down. Before its release, I was pretty excited for this film given my thorough enjoyment of the previous installments. We get introduced to each character's superhero/villain persona rather quickly. Dunn is now "the Overseer". Crumb and his many personalities are collectively referred to as "the Horde". Price is the title character, "Mr. Glass" (named so because of his Osteogenesis imperfecta ). The opening scenes have vigilante Dunn pursuing Crumb who has once again managed to capture another group of young girls. Dunn has now teamed up with his son Joseph (played once again by Spencer Treat Clark) who it seems spends more of his time serving as his sidekick instead of actually attending high school. Both Dunn and Crumb face off early and find themselves evenly matched. The also find themselves captured by psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie Staple (played by newcomer Sarah Paulson), who puts them both in a psychiatric hospital. This is where the movie gets boring and we find ourselves watching over an hour of mainly dialogue taking place in a mental institution as Dr. Staple repeatedly tries to convince them they do not have superpowers. It all leads to the inevitable teaming up of Price and Crumb, which was a bit awkward. I am not going to spoil the eventual outcome of their collaboration or how Shyamalan eventually pulls a fast one on the audience. Unfortunately, I would have to say the biggest twist of this film in the end was that it was a bad movie.