The Shyamalan Secret to Being Scary? It’s in the Blood


What else is new this season? More female directors, including the filmmakers Julia Ducournau (“Raw”) and Isabella Eklöf (“Holiday”), but also more female writers, a major shift from the first season, which was written entirely by Basgallop. The Season 3 writers room is predominantly female.

“I’m very drawn to new voices that have not had a chance to tell a story,” said the elder Shyamalan, who goes by M. Night. “It’s not an agenda.”

Genre, terror, pizza: These are just some of the topics father and daughter Shyamalan discussed by video, she from her apartment in New York and he from his office at his Pennsylvania estate, just west of Philadelphia. These are edited excerpts from the conversation and a follow-up email.

First of all, how have you been handling the pandemic as a family?

ISHANA NIGHT SHYAMALAN We’ve had the same fears and anxieties as anyone. We live near my grandparents, and up until two weeks ago we were all together in the house. It ended up being a period for us to be with each other and create with each other. It was a magical time in the context of something scary.

With real life horrors happening in the world, are there benefits to exploring fictional horrors?

M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN I use genre to talk about fears and anxieties that I’m working through. With “Servant,” I ask myself how I would feel in the nightmare situation of a loved one dying. I’m someone who believes in a benevolent universe. I find it soothing at times like this to think that through.

What was it like to live and work together?

M. NIGHT I had a captive writer in the house, which was terrible for her but great for me. I’d see her in the kitchen, and I’d say “Where are the scripts?” [Laughs.] I know it stinks when your boss is in the house. I’d say, “I need this by tomorrow,” and she’d say, “I will.”



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