Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard are set to reprise their roles in the third installment of Shyamalan’s thriller trilogy.
When The Visit and Split came out, it really seemed as though M. Night Shyamalan was getting back on form. Having made some great films and some intensely hated ones, Shyamalan has seemingly opted for something subtler to soothe the volatility of his oeuvre. He re-entered the game of genre movies with two solid thrillers in the last couple of years. It’s only about to get bigger with his next feature, Glass, which draws together both Split and Unbreakable into a larger-scale cat-and-mouse chase of a “trilogy,” however loosely we must use that term.
Much of Unbreakable‘s cast will be joining the Glass team, with Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard being the newest additions. Original protagonist David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and antagonist Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) are also set to return, in a move that was hinted at by Split‘s “twist” ending. Although, as Film School Rejects’ Christopher Campbell writes, not everybody got that ending, nor did it necessarily feel like enough of a twist that could organically treat Split as a direct sequel to Unbreakable. Of course, there had been no news on Glass at the time. However, it remains to be seen how both films could combine into a single shared universe project.
Shyamalan himself has hypothesized about Split‘s ending and its apparent ties to Unbreakable:
“My thought bubble would be—again, don’t hold me to this—but Elijah never got out of the institution. He was just a guy who believed this. But David doesn’t quite 100 percent believe it that way. He just thinks that he is particularly meant to do this, and [that belief] is kind of faded a little bit. Like, this idea of comic books, that Elijah was saying the comic book world is based on reality, that it’s real—there’s no other evidence for this. It’s this crazy guy who has this bone disorder who’s in an insane asylum. But then [‘Split’] comes up, and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, he’s right.'”
It would be promising if Shyamalan’s completed Glass script retains some of that sentiment. It circles back to the focus on characterization in both preceding films in the series. Per Rob Hunter, Unbreakable is “a masterful revelation of both purpose and power, and it’s done entirely on a human scale.” And as problematic as Split‘s portrayal of disassociative identity disorder is, people can’t help but praise McAvoy for a performance rooted in humanity:
“Despite its ludicrous premise, he does a fine and fearless job of selling his character’s varied personae. There’s even a showreel-worthy moment towards the end where he cycles between different personae in one scene. It’s a little like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2. But there are no special effects here, just acting.”
Shyamalan’s work obviously hinges on surprises, so everything is kept mum while Glass heads into production. Samuel L. Jackson confirmed that filming started this month. At the moment, everyone’s also waiting with bated breath for an announcement of Robin Wright‘s return to her role as Dunn’s wife, Audrey, rounding out the core Unbreakable cast. James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy will once again be embodying their roles from Split — The Beast and Casey respectively — while Sarah Paulson has been cast in an unknown original role. Glass is scheduled for theatrical release on January 18, 2019.