Mr. Glass, The Beast, and David Dunn in Glass

M. Night Shyamalan’s Two Best ‘Unbreakable’ Films Are a Hit Netflix Double Feature

Two of M. Night Shyamalan’s most underrated movies, Split and Glass, are both streaming on Netflix right this very minute, and they’ve both been in the top 10 of the streamer’s movie charts lately.

Recommended Videos

It took over twenty-five years for these two films to complete a trilogy the writer/director started with 2000’s Unbreakable, so some people might not even realize the three films are related. That’s a shame, because when watched sequentially, the Unbreakable trilogy is a scary good time. You don’t have to watch the first movie to jump into Shyamalan’s trilogy—we’ll catch you up so you can jump into the second movie for a scary double feature of Split and Glass!

Unbreakable (2000)

While working on The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan had an idea for a comic book-style trilogy of movies about normal people who develop superhuman powers. Shyamalan convinced Sixth Sense star Bruce Willis to sign on to star as one of Unbreakable’s main characters, David Dunn. Willis then recruited his friend and colleague Samuel L. Jackson, for whom Shyamalan wrote the role of Elijah Price, a.k.a. Mr. Glass.

The plot is a simple one: David Dunn is aboard the Eastrail 177 when the train crashes, and he is the only passenger to get out alive. He then develops super strength and receives premonitions whenever he touches other people, but he does have one weakness: water. Meanwhile, counterpart Mr. Glass was born with extremely fragile bones, so he’s physically weak, but he’s so intelligent that he becomes the mastermind who sets the action for all three movies into motion. In fact, he caused the train accident that sparked Dunn’s superpowers, and at the end of Unbreakable, he’s sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Unbreakable received positive reviews and grossed $248 million domestically and internationally, but DVD sales weren’t the best, so discussions about potential sequels languished. And languished … and then languished some more. It wasn’t until 2017’s Split, which was first marketed as a standalone movie, that Shyamalan quietly finally got to continue with his comic book trilogy.

James McAvoy as Kevin/Patricia in Split
(Universal Pictures)

Split (2017)

Split is a frightening and exciting movie in its own right, and it isn’t until the final scene, when Willis appears as Dunn, that viewers realize the films are connected. Split tells the story of Kevin Wendell Crumb (played with incredible precision by James McAvoy), a man who lives with dissociative identity disorder. Crumb exhibits 24 different alters called “The Horde,” which range from the haughty Patricia to a precocious 9-year-old boy named Hedwig. Most of The Horde are harmless … but a few are not.

In Split, a new alter has emerged: The Beast. The Beast was brought forth to protect The Horde; it’s an amalgam of all the predators who live in the Philadelphia Zoo, where Crumb works, and he has the ability to bend iron bars, climb on walls and ceilings, and crush bodies using a terrifying bear hug. He also requires feeding, which is why he keeps sending other members of The Horde to kidnap teenage girls to lock up in the basement of the zoo.

Yes, that’s Anya Taylor-Joy playing Casey Cooke, one of the teens Crumb kidnaps! As a victim of childhood sexual abuse herself, she becomes the only girl who “gets” Crumb. She realizes that childhood abuse is why The Horde exists; Kevin’s father disappeared when he was a child, leaving his mother free to mentally and physically torment him. Crumb developed DID to escape and cope with her abuse.

In the end, Casey escapes certain death by summoning Kevin Wendall Crumb himself by saying his name three times. This trick will come in handy in the next movie …

Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in Glass
(Universal Pictures)

Glass (2019)

Unlike the first two films, which take place 19 years apart, Glass picks up just a few weeks after Split ends. Dunn and his son, Joseph, (played in both movies by Spencer Treat Clark) discuss the abduction at the Philadelphia Zoo, and Dunn (a.k.a. “The Overseer”) decides to hunt for Crumb to find the new group of girls he’s kidnapped.

The Beast and The Overseer wage a terrific battle (which is worth the price of admission on its own!), but both are soon captured and brought to the same facility that houses Mr. Glass. There, we learn that Kevin Wendell Crumb’s father was killed on the same train that kicked off Dunn’s powers, therefore Mr. Glass was behind the making of both The Horde and The Overseer. This was all intentional, and Mr. Glass sees himself as a sort of kingmaker; he causes horrific situations that enable superheroes to emerge.

Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) sees things differently. She appears to be interested in helping her patients, but she’s secretly a member of the 10,000-year-old Clover Society, which is determined to suppress the public’s knowledge of superheroes around the world. In her words, it’s just “not fair” that some have powers while others do not. She’ll stop at nothing to cover up the existence of super-powered humans, leading to a dramatic climax with a major body count.

I won’t spoil the full ending of Glass for you because it’s just too good not to see for yourself! Let’s just say that some things are worth waiting for, even if we had to wait almost a quarter of a century as we did in this case.

Split and Glass are both streaming on Netflix, and you can find Unbreakable on Max or Prime.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article ‘Back to Black’ Really Is as Bad as You’ve Heard
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in 'Back to Black'
Read Article ‘Hit Man’ Is the Right Kind of Rom-Com for 2024
Glen Powell and Adria Arjona in a bathrub together in Hit Man
Read Article Fans of the ‘The Strangers’ Will Have To Wait Until Fall for ‘Chapter 2’
Madelaine Petsch in 'The Strangers: Chapter 1'
Read Article Here’s How ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Fits Into the Franchise’s Timeline
Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'
Read Article Jessica Alba Marks a Return to Movies with ‘Trigger Warning’
Jessica Alba in Trigger Warning.
Related Content
Read Article ‘Back to Black’ Really Is as Bad as You’ve Heard
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in 'Back to Black'
Read Article ‘Hit Man’ Is the Right Kind of Rom-Com for 2024
Glen Powell and Adria Arjona in a bathrub together in Hit Man
Read Article Fans of the ‘The Strangers’ Will Have To Wait Until Fall for ‘Chapter 2’
Madelaine Petsch in 'The Strangers: Chapter 1'
Read Article Here’s How ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Fits Into the Franchise’s Timeline
Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'
Read Article Jessica Alba Marks a Return to Movies with ‘Trigger Warning’
Jessica Alba in Trigger Warning.
Author
Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.