M. Night Shyamalan has risen out of the depths of director purgatory by giving us his biggest twist yet- a good movie? Is thriller Split a return to form? Let’s make like a banana and check out Split!
>Major Spoilers Below<
Kevin (James McAvoy) is not your average guy. He is home to twenty-three separate personalities that are suddenly placed in turmoil when a few of the personalities kidnap three teenage girls (including Ana Taylor-Joy as Casey). They believe that there is a dormant personality that lurks within the subconscious. And The Beast is hungry…
Split is a pop science thriller that delves into dissociative identity disorder (DID) and cultivates a Jekyll and Hyde-esque horror. The film dives in quickly and doesn’t let go. Shyamalan dumps the puzzle pieces and has the audience begin to piece together Kevin and co.’s intentions and Casey’s backstory. The tension slowly ramps up in way that feels inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Yet, it doesn’t just function as a stand-alone thriller film. Shyamalan uses Split as a covert sort-of sequel to his 2000 superhero film Unbreakable. By taking the time to set up Kevin and co. and their warped philosophy on the existence of heightened beings, Shyamalan has the ability to create a great follow-up that will combine the characters from these films into a new sequel that I will definitely be checking out in theaters.
The best part of Split was James McAvoy as Kevin and co. He captures a modern-day Norman Bates, unassuming on the outside and hiding something far sinister within. He also deftly moves between the personalities in a way that is so chilling. I wish he had the time to play with more than eight, but McAvoy nailed the ones he did do. Each personality had a distinct aspect about them that was interesting and chilling. My personal favorite was Hedwig, a nine-year-old boy who is eerily playful. His performance was so captivating, I wanted to know more about Kevin’s life and how each of the personalities came around in defense of his psyche.
The only weak spots in Split are some of Shyamalan’s persistent quirks. Shamyalan tends to forget the basic principle of film: show don’t tell. Characters like Dr. Fletcher will spew tons of exposition about Kevin and her theories of DID. When we’re being force-fed information, it doesn’t really give us viewers a chance to formulate our own theories as much. I’d rather gain more information through flashbacks or the alt’s behaviors. With that being said, I do believe Shyamalan does do a good job with show don’t tell for Casey. She is very closed off and quiet, and through intermittent flashbacks, we find out why. The other problem in Split is a tendency to use quirks over character. While it is not terrible with the core cast, it occurs with a few supporting players to such a degree it feels cartoonish and out of place. Shyamalan, just because these characters (including your cameo) are bit roles, doesn’t mean they have to be just a quirk.
Shyamalan creates a thoroughly original thriller that is captivating from beginning to end. It’s a movie that I’m still thinking about and wondering how sequel Glass will incorporate Kevin and co. and how the story will conclude. It has its flaws that are basically Shyamalan staples at this point. I really enjoyed this movie, warts and all. It was a great thriller. I’d give Split a B+.
Thank you for reading! Please like, share, and subscribe! Have you seen Split? What did you think? What is your favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie? Sound off in the comments below! Until next time, have a thrilling day!