Trap Looks like Old School Shyamalan is Back

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

M. Night Shyamalan’s breakthrough film was 1999’s The Sixth Sense. Even though the film celebrates its twenty-fifth birthday this year, the movie’s jaw-dropping twist still packs quite the punch for those who have managed to avoid spoilers for a quarter of a century. Ever since, Shyamalan has become known for having a third act revelation that baffles audiences. Some executions of this reveal are better than others, but even when they don’t fully work, it’s still thrilling to watch Shyamalan swing for the fences in a world overburdened with sequels and reboots in the name of nostalgia. If the first trailer of Trap is any indication, it’s safe to say that Shyamalan has another trick up his sleeve.

As the trailer shows, Trap starts off as a feel-good, father/daughter bonding moment. Cooper (Josh Hartnett) has just made his teenage daughter’s (Ariel Donoghue) dreams come true with incredible seats for pop star Lady Raven’s (Saleka Shyamalan) concert. He’s a shoo-in for Dad of the Year as the concert starts, but, as is the case with all of Shyamalan’s works, something sinister is afoot.

When Cooper runs to the bathroom mid-show, he notices an alarming number of security officers who are sweeping the arena. Every exit is now being guarded and closely monitored. When he questions an arena employee at the merch table, the father learns that this entire concert is a set-up to catch a serial killer named The Butcher who has been running rampant in the city. This revelation sends Cooper into a shock and heavily implies that he is The Butcher. Of course, there’s no way Shyamalan has played his cards this early, so something else must be going on here.

Dad, at the concert, looks around the arena with cell phone flashlights surrounding him
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

2024 seems to be the year that some of Shyamalan’s kids enter the family business and Trap is just the beginning. Shyamalan’s musician daughter, Saleka, will make her feature debut as Lady Raven. Shyamalan also has a daughter following in his directing and writing footsteps, Ishana. She has worked as the second unit director for Old and Knock at the Cabin and is the main director for the majority of older sister Saleka’s music videos. While Ishana is not involved in Trap, her feature directorial debut is right around the corner. The Watchers is adapted from the novel by A. M. Shine of the same name and written for the big screen by Ishana. It will hit theaters on June 14, 2024, a solid two months before her dad’s Trap. However, those who watch Trap‘s trailer with an eagle eye will notice a billboard at the 1:09 minute-mark for The Watchers.

It’s hard to speculate where Trap will go from the brief trailer we’ve been given, but it does harken back to the days of the claustrophobic disaster thrillers of the 80s and 90s. Movies like Die Hard, Sudden Death, and Snake Eyes have already shown us the tension that can arise from thousands of people trapped in a single space, but we’ve never seen the threat be a serial killer like this. It feels far too easy for Hartnett’s Cooper to be The Butcher, but if not him, then who? There are thousands of people in the arena to choose from, but so few other actors announced. IMDb lists Hayley Mills as someone named Dr. Grant, Marnie McPhail as Jody’s Mom, and Vanessa Smythe as Tour Manager. Rolling Stone also lists Allison Pill as part of the cast, but with no character name attached. Any one of these people could be The Butcher or it could be someone that’s not even on our radar yet. Only time will tell.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Josh Hartnett, Ariel Donoghue, and Saleka Shyamalan, Trap will be released in theaters in the United States on August 9, 2024.

Written by Tina Kakadelis

News Editor for Film Obsessive. Movie and pop culture writer. Seen a lot of movies, got a lot of opinions. Let's get Carey Mulligan her Oscar.

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