Find destinations that go bump in the night as you stop and see the filming locations of horror-film extraordinaire, M. Night Shyamalan. Raised in Penn Valley, the filmmaker takes pride in producing most of his frightful films near his hometown of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. You may start seeing signs- or dead people- after exploring the inspiration behind Shyamalan’s Halloween classics.
1. The Sixth Sense
Shot in the fall of 1998 in Philadelphia, put Shyamalan in the ranks of the world's A-list directors, The Sixth Sense instantly became a blockbuster hit and was nominated for six Academy Awards. You can celebrate 20 years of the film classic and tour the locations of the film’s scenes in the city of brotherly love. Find where young Cole Sears starts to see dead people just south of Fitler Square at his home at 2302 St Albans Street, now marked as “Garden Court Apartments.” Recreate the film’s opening scene and discover the bench Bruce Willis’ character, Malcolm Crowe, is seen sitting on while waiting for Cole. Shortly after this opening shot, we see Cole running to the nearby St. Augustine’s Church on North Lawrence Street as Malcolm follows close behind.
Another Bruce Willis classic filmed in Philadelphia, Unbreakable is the first film of Shyamalan’s Unbreakable/Eastrail 177 trilogy. See where Willis’ character, David Dunn, has never taken a day’s sick leave as a security guard at UPenn’s Franklin Field. And although you cannot enjoy a craft cocktail at the Curtis Center like Dunn and his wife did in the film, you can still admire the gorgeous mural that is displayed in the lobby.
Rural PA is the perfect setting for supernatural happenings, which is exactly what Shyamalan had in mind when shooting his science fiction horror film, Signs, in Bucks County. Although the house is no longer standing, see where Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix encounter extraterrestrial beings on their corn field at Delaware Valley University. Discover where their family is seen enjoying a meal at the local pizza parlor in the heart of Newtown, which has since been renovated to New Age Astrology. Other notable scenes and stops include the car accident that takes place at Tyler State Park and Burns Pharmacy where Gibson’s character runs an errand while contemplating his recent out-of-this world experiences.
4. The Happening
Follow Mark Wahlberg around Philadelphia and Phoenixville as he, and the world, is faced with an apocalyptic threat to humanity in The Happening. Shot both in the city and the surrounding towns, Wahlberg plays Elliot Moore, a science teacher at a Philadelphia school, Masterman School, in Spring Garden. As the natural disaster spreads and his family flees the city, they find themselves at G-Lodge Diner in Phoenixville planning their next move. You too can plan your next move at the local eatery and decide what film location you want to uncover next.
5. The Village
Shyamalan’s thriller, The Village, gives a nod to his PA roots as the film is centered around an Amish-style community and their relationship with the creatures that lurk within the surrounding woods. The actual “village” where the film was shot is located off the eerie Cossart Road in Chadds Ford. Also known as “Devil’s Road,” you’ll notice the trees dramatically lean away from the road itself. The local legend around this well-known haunted road dates to one of the early DuPont families who lived in a large mansion off the road, and it’s rumored strange cult-like activities were performed there. Although you won’t find an actual village here, keep your foot on the gas as you make your way along this paranormal path.
6. The Visit
Visiting grandma and grandpa’s house ends up being anything but ordinary in The Visit. Shyamalan uses Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station in many of his films, also featured in The Happening and Glass, but in this American found-footage style film we see one of the first few scenes in the station as the children’s mother helps them board the train. The siblings soon find themselves in Pennsylvania farm country at their grandparent’s house located at 3049 Merlin Road in Chester Springs where the elderly couple’s behavior soon becomes bizarre. Watch the movie before following the film to see why the building of Royersford Spring Company holds significance to the final twist.
Of the 23 personalities James McAvoy’s character portrays in the film Split, it’s the last personality known as “The Beast” that is teased throughout and terrifies viewers. The second film in the Unbreakable/Eastrail 177 series following Unbreakable, the characters are mostly seen indoors as McAvoy’s character holds his victims captive, unveiling each of his personalities one by one. It’s after the battle against the Beast where we catch a glimpse of Philadelphia when one of the abductees is rescued from the Philadelphia Zoo.
The end of the Unbreakable/Eastrail 177 trilogy, Glass features several Philadelphia destinations for the final showdown between David Dunn, The Beast, and the mysterious Elijah Price. We see several shots throughout the film of the city’s iconic skyline, which was most likely shot from Fairmount Park, the largest municipal park in Philadelphia. You may remember the iconic scene in Unbreakable where Samuel L. Jackson’s character is holding up a Sentryman comic book in Ontario Street Comics. The final film in the trilogy returns to this location to give the characters a full circle moment. And you can dine like the superhumans in the film by trying Stephen Starr’s Parc Restaurant.
Shyamalan takes his thriller expertise to the small screen in Apple TV’s The Servant. Starring Rupert Grint, the show follows a Philadelphia couple as they navigate their daily lives after an unspeakable tragedy and come in contact with a mysterious force in the process. Having filmed on Spruce Street in Center City, you’ll recognize nearby landmarks such as Rittenhouse and Fitler Square.
For more must-see film and TV locations in Pennsylvania, check out the visitPA.com website. Follow us on Facebook, X (Twitter), Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Never miss an update by signing up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter