Movie Review: SPLIT
M. Night Shyamalan makes a grand comeback with this taut psychological thriller
His work on the successful tv show Wayward Pines plus the subtle success of his 2015 film, The Visit was enough of a mild comeback for M. Night Shyamalan that it ushered the proud advertising of his name in association with 2017’s Split. Or maybe it was the B+ from Cinemascore audiences for this film. In an era where so many good things have gone bad, it’s nice to see M. Night Shyamalan making a solid comeback. And he seems to have found his niche in the horror/thriller genre. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie.
Split starts quickly with three teenage girls being kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) who we later discover, in quite an interesting way has many different personalities. The movie then deals with the 3 girls trying to plot their escape, and the interactions the various personalities their captor has with them. Additionally, we are introduced to Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who is the kidnapper’s psychiatrist and has been working with his 23 distinct personalities. The story has another layer, and that is that of one of the victims, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). We are taken in flashbacks to distinct memories that give us a little insight to who she is and what she might be capable of.
What I love about this movie is that it reminds us of what a master storyteller Shyamalan can be. I also love the award worthy performance of McAvoy as Dennis/Patricia/Hedwig/The Beast/Kevin Wendell Crumb/Barry/Orwell/Jade. He seamlessly transforms from one to the other in slow speed and rapid fire at other times. One of the things I regret is that the movie did not show us more of his other personalities. But what we did get, was handled brilliantly by the actor. The movie is never dull, it is constantly interesting.
Congratulations to M. Night Shyamalan for making an intelligent yet psychological thriller film that is quite original. There is a nice shocker (that won’t make you groan) at the end of the film, and you will only “get” it if you are familiar with Shyamalan’s early body of work. And that is all I am going to say about that.