Robot Chicken has produced some classic sketches over the years, but few have reached the meme immortality of the “What A Twist” skit.
Robot Chicken’s beloved sketch “M. Night Shyamalan’s The Twist” spawned the “What A Twist” gag. While The Sixth Sense wasn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial debut, it’s often viewed that way. This classic 1999 supernatural drama cast Bruce Willis as a child psychologist who treats a boy who claims to see the dead. The movie was showered with praise for the cast and direction, and its twist is one of the most famous in all of cinema.
M. Night Shyamalan would follow with Unbreakable, which again cast Willis and was way ahead of its time in terms of deconstructing the superhero genre. The movie is now regarded as one of the director’s best, and he was soon labeled “The Next Spielberg.” Unfortunately, his filmography would prove to be a real mixed bag in the years that followed, filled with ambitious follies like Lady In The Water, big-budget misfire The Last Airbender or the well-received horror-thriller Split – which was also a stealth Unbreakable sequel.
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The M. Night Shyamalan plot twist also became a signature of his work, with many of his most popular films featuring an ending rug pull of some kind. Adult Swim’s stop-motion sketch series Robot Chicken helped seal one of the most famous M. Night Shyamalan memes in the form of the “What a twist” gag in the show’s first season. Episode 8 featured a sketch titled “M. Night Shyamalan’s The Twist,” which featured the director himself could in a twist-filled thriller.
“M. Night Shyamalan’s The Twist” opens with the director stepping outside his house – only to reveal he’s in space. Soon aliens invade in a nod to 2002’s Signs, only to reveal benign intentions. Shyamalan greets every surprise with “What a twist” which soon became shorthand for the director’s most famous trope. It ends with the ultimate twist, as the aliens and the director’s family – which includes his wife, Bhavna Shyamalan – performing the Twist dance.
While Robot Chicken’s “What a twist!” remains one of their most popular, and is still fun thanks to its ever more outlandish reveals, some elements haven’t aged well. Creator Seth Green’s choice to voice the director with a cartoony Indian accent is pretty dubious in hindsight, as is the running gag of the aliens being unable to pronounce his name. While this joke was a common one in 2005, it comes off as needlessly mean-spirited now. M. Night Shyamalan has weathered some bad reviews during his career and he didn’t seem well suited to blockbuster filmmaking, but in embracing more contained, horror-focused tales, he’s got his filmmaking mojo back. His next movie Old is set for release in 2021.
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