M. Night Shyamalan Doesn't Read Stephen King For The Scares

No one can dispute Stephen King's position as a master of horror. For decades, the prolific writer has engrossed us in ideas of the unknown, telling many dark and twisted tales that have kept us up at night and for far longer after turning the last page. 

King's short stories and full-length novels have been adapted into feature films and television shows since the 1970s. His command over creating stories that are grounded in reality has inspired and profoundly influenced other writers and auteurs. While some of King's fans are astonished at his knack for crafting horror stories, some are inspired by different motivations. Acclaimed filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, for example, has a surprising reason for reading Stephen King's novels — and it has nothing to do with them being scary.

There's realism in Stephen King's stories

Stephen King has been writing horror fiction for over 50 years; his most critically-acclaimed novels, "Carrie," "The Shining," and "It," have all been adapted into various mediums. Through his characters, King illustrates multiple aspects of human life, exploring themes like pain, suffering, and hope. His work primarily belongs to the horror genre, but King's works never mean to elicit fear as the only emotion on display. 

The writer bakes realism into his novels, and readers often root for his characters because, despite being inherently flawed, their humanity never fails to come across. They feel like real people, and resonating with characters through a glimpse of their psyche is the most unassuming way to enjoy a story. It is King's ability to create grounded experiences in supernatural settings that M. Night Shyamalan deeply admires.

Shyamalan isn't focused on the scares

Here's what the filmmaker said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

"[I read Stephen King because] of his ability to put characters in supernatural settings and still come across as grounded in reality ... I don't know if I read him because he's scary."

While readers of Stephen King will agree that we're all floored by the eerie atmosphere constructed in the world of his novels, we must also admit that there's something thoroughly satisfying about reading King's horror works: He takes us on a trip into the unknown, but the journey somehow still feels very connected to our world. 

As a filmmaker, Shyamalan has always operated on his own terms, and is known for his enigmatic filmmaking style and ability to craft unexpected twisted endings, particularly in the psychological thriller genre. King and Shyamalan have yet to work together, but if there's one thing similar between the two storytelling legends, it is their artistry for favoring realism even in unexpected scenarios.