This shit is creepy
When we were kids we all had some sort of irrational fear of monsters hiding in the darkness, as we got older and we were home alone for the first time at night we were afraid of people breaking in to our home. Is this a biological fear or something that we develop in a social context? And what fuels these fears? Horror movies are just one aspect of our society that fuels these fears. In the movie Split you get both parts… each aspect mentioned before plays into one film, but personally I’d say the first two thirds of the film are much scarier and just flat out creepy, at least to an adult, then the last third. So, what makes this movie so special? It’s the idea of fearing our own mind and the ability it has.
The 2016 movie Split, (written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan), is a psychological horror-thriller film. It’s based off a character that has 23 different identities. And not just different personalities but completely different identities that are completely different from the last. This character named Kevin, at least that is his original identity, (played by James McAvoy), kid nappes three high school aged girls and keeps them locked up until a 24th identity is revealed in which the 24th identity is a human like beast. The film plays off the idea that there are people in this world that have multiple identities, but psychologist refuse to accept the idea and so these people are out casted and misdiagnosed. Kevin seeks to show the world that those that don’t have multiple identities are un-pure, and must me killed and eaten. This is the monster aspect Shyamalan plays off. But the biggest aspect Shyamalan uses is the idea of people that have some sort of psychological problem but cannot control it. Kevin kid nappes these young women believing they are un-pure and keeps them locked up in an unknown area until the 24th identity comes out to, well, eat them alive. But along the way his different identities come out and we see what identities are supposedly good and what ones are bad.
If it wasn’t for McAvoy’s phenomenal acting Split would not be the fear inducing film that it is. McAvoy’s ability to portray so many different identities so well adds an aspect of realism. We fear what we don’t understand and his ability to be something we don’t understand makes hair stand on end. A scene that stands out is when we first meet the identity of Hedwig, a nine-year-old boy. The ability of McAvoy to convince us, not just that Kevin thinks he’s a different person, but that he is truly a nine-year-old boy adds depth that gives this film not just the credibility it needs but a starling realism that makes this film so un-nerving. And Shyamalan uses this to his full ability.
Shyamalan, in his directing of Split, uses McAvoy’s acting to switch back and forth between identities within a matter of moments. This is an aspect Shyamalan uses to his full advantage and one of the stronger aspects he’s used in his films. Split is a sequel, though not marked as a sequel and not revealed until the final scene, of the 2000 film by Shyamalan called Unbreakable. The 2000 film plays off the idea that there are people in this world with superpowers. There will be another film called Glass in 2019 where these two main characters colloids with one another. And if Shyamalan keeps up the credibility of the work he did in the other two films it will be not only a financial success but a work of art. Either way both movies that are out now touch a deeper topic, it plays off a fear we innately have as human beings, to fear the unknown.
We as a species seek for answers, whether it be through science or religion we have a desire, fueled by fear, to find reason behind the ideas we do not understand. The film Split plays off this, in a startlingly realistic manner. The idea that there are things out there beyond human control frightens most of us. We seek to be at the top of the food chain. We seek to be the ones with the answers and when we aren’t we are lost. That, I believe, is why this film is so successful. Not because of the beast at the end but because of the idea that there are people out there that are capable of so much more than any average human but cannot control it. That is a fear we all have as humans.