Movie Review: Split
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Truly one of the most polarizing film makers since 1999 has to be M. Night Shyamalan. He
wowed us from the start with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs, but then he took bigger
chances that fans didn’t appreciate because they wanted him to stay in his box – a box best
described as low cost, high concept and very inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and early Spielberg.
True fans have stuck with him, though, and even the old fans are taking notice that he’s back to
form per their liking.
SPLIT is the newest film from Shyamalan as writer/director, and this is the second film in a row
produced by Blumhouse. Set once again in M. Night’s home cityscape of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, Split is very much a case study of James McAvoy’s character who lives with a war
between 24 different personalities raging inside of him. McAvoy does amazingly showing
practically every one of them, as well. Talking and moving a bit differently for a personality is one
thing, but McAvoy seriously makes himself look like a different person each time. Certain
personalities of his character have become stronger and in charge, now, and they have taken
three teen girls hostage. The odd one out of the teens is Casey, played out solid by Anya Taylor-
Joy (who you may have seen do just as well last year in The Witch). Casey is our primary sub
plot, and via unsettling flash backs to her childhood, we can see why she is such a survivor, able
to match wits mostly with the primary personalities in charge of McAvoy’s shell. A lesser sub plot
involves actress Betty Buckley as McAvoy’s psychiatrist who does fully care for his well-being, but
she is also using him for her personal research and in major seminars and lectures. All of this
coupled with the driving point of suspense that the 24th personality, a ferocious and unstoppable
“beast” soon to feed on the three teens, and “he’s coming soon” makes the film a very tight thriller
that keeps you engaged.
I can tell you that the film keeps a steady bead of dread going, that the intensity ramps up as
needed and that the film stands well on its own as a well- crafted thriller. What I can’t reveal,
though, is that signature twist from M. Night Shyamalan we all know to expect…and wow, is it a
crowd pleaser this time. If I may hint, though, it is not so much a plot twist…it is a complete
perspective twist on every single frame of the film, every emotion you just went through, every way
the film ends up in the end. I don’t think a twist this good has been pulled since the ending of The
Usual Suspects. Do yourself a favor and absolutely go see this one. You may find yourself like
most of the advance screening group I was sitting with…raising hands or fists and exclaiming, “oh,
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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley