Split (2017) is the latest M. Night Shyamalan’s film, starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy.
Being on my ‘most anticipated movies’ list, I was really pumped up to watch Split but at the same time I lowered my expectations not to be disappointed as I was with The Visit (2015), the most recent Shyamalan’s movie. So, what are my thoughts on Split?
First, the plot. A man with 23 different personalities – Kevin, played by James McAvoy – kidnaps three girls – Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch). While they are trying to escape from Kevin, they start to learn more about his split personalities, which are also under investigation on behalf of Kevin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher – the ‘old crazy lady’ from The Happening, portrayed by Betty Buckley.
Kevin, but mostly Dennis and Patricia – aka his most disturbed and twisted identities – have in mind to keep the ‘impure’ girls locked up until ‘The Beast’, the 24th personality, will be unleashed and will be able to devour them. Is ‘The Beast’ a real deal or it lives only in Kevin’s mind?
Where do I start? Well, to begin with, the plot, while being highly unrealistic, is executed in such a mature way that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the entire runtime. The locations are well-crafted and purposely claustrophobic, the soundtrack is always spot on and the camera work is really astonishing.
Furthermore, all of this cinematic structure is supported by compelling performances from the actors – James McAvoy is simply jaws-dropping, he gave an Oscar-worthy performance being able to deliver each personality in such a unique and terrifying way. Anya Taylor-Joy is, once again, eyes-grabbing in this movie. Her character’s arc is explored and developed so well throughout the film that, to me, Casey is one of the most compelling horror protagonists of the last years. You, as a viewer, really buy into her character and feel for her.
Yet, the dreadful atmosphere built masterfully since the very first moment, the abduction scene, is climatic and brings to a crescendo which makes the viewer more and more terrified. Split is a great horror movie, because it’s capable of combing scary moments with a general unsettling tone.
Nevertheless, the film has a couple of weaknesses, namely the long and unnecessary exposition scene, where Dr. Fletcher tells to a broad audience via Skype what the Kevin’s case consists of and what are the possible implications. Again, the characters of Claire and Marcia are not the greatest: played in a very derivative way, they get annoying after a while and the viewers cannot really feel for them.
I’m sorry, but a good review of Split cannot refuse to talk about the ending and the final twist. So, if you have not seen the movie, go watch it (and I mean, now) and come back here.
This movie is a unique product and its ending could be either very disappointing or highly fulfilling.
Basically, ‘The Beast is real’ – as Dennis claims – and he appears as an under-steroids version of McAvoy. Toller, stronger, covered by pumping veins and immune to whatever physical attack.
Is it silly? I guess if you haven’t seen Unbreakable (Shyamalan’s movie starring Bruce Willis as an ‘ordinary superhero’) it is a bit dumb indeed.
However, if you have seen that movie, the ending puts Split in the same universe of Unbreakable, turning it into the building of a super-villain. The final Bruce Willis’ cameo/close-up proves it beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Either ways, Split doesn’t fall short at all. Inserted in the Unbreakable universe, with the doors open to a sequel, this movie is indubitably a first-class product. Otherwise, it’s an excellent motion picture filled with fantastic characters and a very tense, thrilling and dramatic story. Must see. Cheers!