After a promising early career, director M. Night Shyamalan's reputation has taken a hit in recent years after he released a trio of duds: The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. The latter two also represent the biggest budgets that Shyamalan has ever handled as director, and despite each scraping by with a profit at the box office it's unlikely that we'll see sequels any time soon.
Instead, Shyamalan has turned his attention to a low-budget thriller called Sundowning, which he has been filming in Philadelphia for the past few weeks. Shyamalan also wrote the script and is co-producing alongside Ashwin Rajan (Devil) and Marc Bienstock (Quarantine 2: Terminal).
Sundowning has flown largely under the radar until now, with the exception of the snowy production photos that Shyamalan has been sharing on social media (see below), but new casting details have emerged via TheWrap, confirming that Sundowning will star Kathryn Hahn (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and young actor Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day). MTV was the first to break the news of Hahn's casting on Twitter, adding that the film appears to be focused on just seven characters.
According to a brief synopsis from TheWrap, “Hahn plays a single mother whose two young children visit their grandparents… and things go very wrong." Oxenbould will play her son, a boy who is very protective of his sister. The mention of grandparents ties into the film's title, which refers to a psychological state suffered by people with dementia, causing increased confusion and restlessness during and after sunset. During the script read in February, Shyamalan shared some of his impressions and optimism on Twitter:
"Had a read thru with the cast. It was the smallest table of any movie. About ten of us in a small room at at hotel. Amazing! There were three people there who hadn't read the script and read smaller parts. They literally jumped out of their seats. The cast is sensational. The performances were so captivating. I was walking on air as I went home. I hope I don't screw this up."
Perhaps this return to smaller, character-driven filmmaking is just what Shyamalan's career needs to get back on track. We're certainly intrigued to hear more about Sundowning's set-up.
We'll keep you updated on Sundowning as production continues.