Why The Trailer For M. Night Shyamalan's New Serial Killer Movie Has Me Convinced It's A Secret Sequel To One Of His Biggest Films

 Josh Hartnett's spine tingling portrayal of a serial killer in Trap.
Josh Hartnett's spine tingling portrayal of a serial killer in Trap.

Warner Bros. just unleashed the sinister first trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming thriller, Trap, and it's got every element you'd expect from the master of twists: a diabolical plot, a gripping setting, and Josh Hartnett as a serial killer lurking at a pop star's concert. But here's where it gets interesting: there's enough in this trailer to make me believe that this newest thriller might just be a secret sequel to The Sixth Sense. Crazy? Maybe. But hear me out, because I think I’m right.

Trap follows a father-daughter duo, played by Hartnett and Ariel Donoghue, as they attend a concert by pop sensation Lady Raven, portrayed by Night’s real-life daughter, R&B singer Saleka. But as the chilling vibes of the trailer suggest, this isn't just any pop concert. It's a deadly trap. Hartnett's character takes a suspiciously timed bathroom break only to discover federal agents swarming the venue. They're hunting "The Butcher," a notorious serial killer known for his brutal MO. But twist — the trailer reveals Hartnett himself as the Butcher, now ensnared in his own game, trying desperately to escape with a hostage in tow.

The trailer had great, fun vibes while being quintessentially Shyamalan — dark, suspenseful, with an undercurrent of dread.

Now, why do I suspect Trap might actually be a secret sequel to The Sixth Sense? Consider how the Lady in the Water filmmaker expertly revealed Split as a stealth continuation of Unbreakable—a twist only made clear in the movie's final moments. Similarly, the Trap trailer tantalizes us with the phrase, “Get Ready for a new experience... in the world of M. Night Shyamalan.” This phrase alone sparks curiosity. When the trailer teases "from the world of…" it hints at an exploration of one of his established universes. But which one?

Given Bruce Willis's retirement and the closure provided by Glass, the last of the Unbreakable trilogy, it seems unlikely that Trap would revisit the same narrative universe as Split and Glass–which are killing it on Netflix. So, what other "world" from the Signs director’s oeuvre could be ripe for continuation? While there are a bunch of great M. Night movies, in my opinion, there's really only one that makes a compelling case — The Sixth Sense.

The plot for Trap alone had me asking questions. Like, how do they know the serial killer is going to be in this particular arena seeing this particular concert? If they knew who the killer was, wouldn't they just arrest him? Well, maybe they only have the information to go off of because someone has told them, like perhaps one of "The Butcher's" recent victims. That's right — a ghost.

Could Josh Hartnett’s character somehow be connected to Cole Sear, Haley Joel Osment's memorable character from one of the best horror movies of all time?

Picture this: Cole, now an adult, uses his supernatural abilities to assist law enforcement in tracking down serial killers before they can strike again. It's a wild idea, but isn't that just the kind of unexpected twist M. Night loves to deliver? After all, the last time we saw Cole, he was using his gift to help spirits — like the young girl played by Mischa Barton, whose stepmother was poisoning her — find peace by resolving their unsettled affairs. Perhaps Cole is helping the spirit of one of "The Butcher’s" victims, guiding them toward resolution and peace.

It may seem far-fetched, but it's a theory that fits perfectly with Shyamalan's pension for mind-blowing plot twists. The Village helmer’s recent switch from Universal to Warner Bros. adds more intrigue. According to THR’s reporting, he described the move as aligning with a studio that cherishes the theatrical experience and supports distinctive filmmakers. With such a supportive backdrop, it’s the ideal time for the Old screenwriter to unexpectedly dive back into his earlier creations and expand his cinematic universe. I am all in for this possibility and eagerly await to see if Night surprises us again.

Trap hits the 2024 movie schedule on August 9, and I'll be there opening night, popcorn in hand, ready to see if my theory holds water. Whether I'm right and Trap is connected to one of the best movies of the 1990s or I’m completely wrong, one thing's for sure: in the world of M. Night Shyamalan, nothing is ever as it seems.