Review - Split
By midlandsmovies, May 31 2017 08:58AM
Split (2017) Dir. M. Night Shyamalan
Split begins when a group of regular teenage girls are abducted by James McAvoy’s creepy stalker “Dennis” and detained against their will in a location unknown. With Shyamalan’s penchant for dark twisty thrillers, we find all is not what it seems and soon uncover the man is merely one of 23 different personalities that inhabit his body.
These characters range from the old and the young and even women and it’s to McAvoy’s talents that he can pull off such a role. He mostly omits any subtlety but is clearly having huge amounts of fun with each extreme incarnation.
Shyamalan keeps us guessing as to what the true nature of this person is as the girls try everything from escape plans to befriending “Hedwig”, one of the younger personalities, in order to get out of their locked rooms. The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy excels as the leading girl and along with this and the Ridley Scott produced ‘Morgan’, the actress is carving quite a career in spookily dark thrillers that go beyond the natural.
With this absurd premise, the filmmaker doesn’t try too much to take the audience down the route of an accurate medical depiction – quite the opposite in fact – and he mostly keeps the transitions between each of them off screen. This keeps the stakes high as we’re never sure as to which one may re-enter the room and which of them knows information the others don't.
But this being a Shyamalan film we must talk about his inevitable favourite trick of the trade. As the film hits its emotional summit, he rounds the story off with a sense that supernatural forces may actually be a part of the kidnappers psyche but he keeps it ambiguous almost until the end.
And it is the end that is most surprising. McAvoy’s character has a supervillain vibe about him with mental (and then a physical manifestation of) powers that go beyond the real-life affliction he is suffering from. Here I felt Shyamalan had jumped the shark as I was enjoying the authentic world created. Yet, in a world full of spoilers, trailers that give away too much and news sites covering every minutiae of productions, Shyamalan manages one of his best hoodwinks yet.
In a lingering last shot we hear a journalist report on the events and comparing them to a similar villainous occurrence involving one “Mr. Glass”. And then David Dunn (Bruce Willis) appears. That’s right folks. It’s an Unbreakable sequel. Blimey!
With this and The Visit, Shyamalan has returned to his roots and gone someway, at the least, to prove his directing capabilities after misfires like The Happening and After Earth.
I was enjoying the film on its own terms but the director’s cherry expands the universe of his much beloved super-hero second film and the fact he had kept it under wraps (with another studio no less!) should be commended. It helped an already tightly wound morbid tale of mental woe conclude in a way that linked its real-life terrors with a mystical mystery that is hopefully expanded upon further.
Midlands Movies Mike