Title – Split (2016)
Director – M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)
Cast – James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley
Plot – Kidnapped by the mentally unhinged Kevin (McAvoy) who harbors within him 23 different distinct personalities, Casey (Taylor-Joy) and her fellow abductees must fight to escape their imprisoner before Kevin’s latest and most dangerous incarnation is unleashed.
“He’s done awful things to people and he’ll do awful things to you”
Review by Eddie on 3/02/2017
Until last year’s mini-comeback The Visit hit our cinema screens, it seemed like the “it” thing to do was talk down the undeniable talents of M. Night Shyamalan as a filmmaker.
A writer/director of unique vision that gave birth to one of the greatest debuts of all time with The Sixth Sense and followed it up with the memorable Unbreakable and Signs and the underrated The Village, only to be found wanting with misguided films Lady in the Water and (cold shudder alert) The Last Airbender and The Happening, the young director seemed to have lost his way and everyone was having a great time reminding each other about it, but showing once and for all that you can’t keep a talent down forever, the commercially successful and critically liked Split see’s Shyamalan back doing what he does best, delivering audience appeasing thrillers with fresh unpredictable twists.
While not reaching the grand heights of his early products, Split which ends up going to some fairly dark and twisted places as it deals with a group of abducted teenage girls led by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey and their increasingly demented encounters with their adductor Kevin, who just so happens to have a further 22 personalities with an added addition on its way, is a constantly engaging and often unpredictable beast that is anchored by a powerful display of acting turns from James McAvoy.
Whether playing the OCD Dennis, the child like Hedwig, the fashion introvert Barry or an array of other identities including a late starter to the horde in the films final stages, McAvoy dominates the film and elevates it to grander heights than it’s somewhat slight narrative aims go for and while Split is unlikely to be a film awards season cares to recognise come the end of 2017, there’s little denying that we’ve already seen one of the year’s most standout acting displays and arguably the turn of McAvoy’s still developing career.
The other highlight of Split is seeing Shyamalan back on impressive directing and writing duties with the film featuring a number of tension riddled examples of direction (and a standout dance scene) and a number of brave writing choices, some of which will shock the audiences in the later stages, and in particular give greater meaning to Casey’s plight.
It’s great to have the Shyamalan of old back, not to the level we know his capable of, but Split is a thriller with a difference, filled with an odd yet evident heart and James McAvoy having the time of his life running wild with one of modern cinemas most spine-tingling villains. With the added addition of an end coda likely to please Shyamalan fans of old, Split is well worth your time.
3 ½ cd players out of 5