For most who have spent any time-consuming movies will know the ups and downs of director M. Night Shyamalan. Once the darling of Hollywood with hits like Sixth Sense and Signs, he soon began a downward trajectory of unsuccessful and derided films. His last effort The Visit was a riff on old horror comedy that was broader than some of the extremities of the genre. His latest Split confirms that it was no fluke. It’s also a strong thriller that while stumbles at times and cheats at other, is overall enjoyable. Find out more in our review. is kidnapped with two of her friends by a man with multiple personality disorders. It soon becomes clear that certain personalities are in control and have kidnapped the girls as a sacrifice for the emerging 24
When Casey is kidnapped alongside two her friends by a man with multiple personality disorders, she must find a way to escape. It soon becomes clear that certain personalities are in control and have kidnapped the girls as a sacrifice for the emerging 24th personality known as The Beast. The girls must save themselves by manipulating the personalities and finding a way of escaping their imprisonment before the 24th personality arrives.
Split bears a lot in common with last year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. It set around the confines of a claustrophobic location where reality is being manipulated. Shyamalan knows this type of wheelhouse when it comes to atmosphere. Colour palettes, camera angles and confined spaces come together with all sort of playful techniques to make Split feel like a really tight experience.
Split builds toward the revelation of the 24th personality and done it with such ominous delight that when ‘The Beast’ finally does arrive it feels a little bit jarring. The beast’s ability to do things that are abnormal or supernatural seems inconsistent with the film so far. I found myself a little bit disappointed by this revelation because there are only vague hints that this is even a possibility.
Split does recover from this in a way that I can’t really discuss without spoiling the film’s ending. There is a discussion to be had for the context that the movie takes place. The problem remains that not many will understand the credits reveal. So it makes the film feel like it’s cheating. If you’ve seen the film I would love to have that discussion with someone who has seen the film. It is also cool what the film means in light of that ending. A sequel could mean something really interesting.
Much of what make Split works is James McAvoy performance especially considering that he is a playing several distinct yet connected personalities. They range from a child to a hipster fashion designer to a woman and finally a germophobic pervert. There is a distinct voice, body mannerisms and even a separate back-story for each personality. So distinct is that you tell a change in personality. by the way his face shifts. It’s not the type of film destined for award recognition but much of the film success hinges on him and succeed it does.
It’s a clever script that weaves the various twists and turns. With all the personalities, it could be a potentially confusing yet that never seems to be a problem. There is also a nice sense of humour throughout and while this isn’t a comedy it provides a nice tension relief for otherwise dire proceedings. The script can be clunky at times when it veers heavily into exposition especially when trying to exposit the disease. It’s at its worst during the Skype lecture from the Psychiatrist which is both unnecessary and simply just to awkwardly to point you towards the supernatural potential of the illness.
It’s probably worth pointing out that the film is a little bit insensitive to people that suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar or any other illness that the disease in Split bears a passing resemblance to. The real people who struggle with these disorders are often demonised by a misunderstanding and split doesn’t do them any favours.
Split Review Cheat Sheet:
Split is a cleverly and tightly constructed thriller that hinges on the wonderful performance of James McAvoy. It will be much talked about for its ending which both feels like a cheat and a clever twist. Entertaining and thrilling.
+ Very tight thriller
+ Amazing crucial performance by James McAvoy
+ An ending that recontextualise the film and makes me excited for the possibility of more.
+ A fun script with lots of twists and turns.
-exposition and dialogue occasionally clunky
-films seems to cheat with how it explains a supernatural 24th personality
-pretty insensitive to those with mental disorders.