Here’s a twist: Split doesn’t suck!
One of two things happen when you say “M. Night Shyamalan has a new movie coming out”. You either laugh hysterically or pause and ask about the premise. Split sort of had both reactions, mostly because it’s been well over a decade since M. Night produced a film of substance, and even that is up for debate.
Unfortunately, my viewing experience was pretty shitty, I’m not gonna lie. My theater was FULL of those people who love to talk at full volume during a movie who also laugh during tense/suspenseful moments because they can’t handle it. If you don’t like horror or other things of that nature, maybe DON’T go see a film by a director we know likes to focus on those things?
Anyhow, James McAvoy stars as Kevin, a D.I.D. (dissociative identity disorder, which is different than multiple personality disorder) afflicted man with a slight Red Dragon streak to three of his personalities. He absolutely nails this performance, each unique character has their own physical manifestations and voice work. From 9 year old Hedwig to the more sinister Patrick, McAvoy inhabits each individual’s headspace believably.
Kevin’s personality Patrick kidnaps three young girls and holds them hostage. The two ‘popular’ girls, Jessica Sula (Marcia) and Haley Lu Richardson (Claire) spend most of the film hyperventilating in terror, understandably, until Claire uses a shoe to punch a hole in the ceiling to attempt an escape.
The third captive, Anya Taylor Joy (Casey), gives the others advice, leading the audience to believe she’s been in a situation like this before. We learn during a series of flashbacks that yes, she’s no stranger to sinister men. It almost felt like there were supposed to be more revealed puzzle pieces to Casey, but all in all, one of the better female characters in Shyamalan’s lexicon.
While not as straight out jump scare filled as one might expect, the caliber of performances from McAvoy and Joy are impressive in this film. Also, McAvoy is RIPPED! His physique is notable.
SCORE: Solid 3.5 out of 5, viewed in standard non 3D
The Good: I’ve already touched on how good James McAvoy’s performance is, and the film almost could have been longer to give us more of his personalities. Some of the better editing, solid construction of scenes and visuals make this rank up there with Signs as a complete cinematic piece.
The Bad: There isn’t really anything spectacular about Split. If you want to be scared or on the edge of your seat, this may be a disappointing trip to the movies for you. It’s fine, but nothing memorable, except for the end credit surprise which I won’t ruin for you.
Split opens worldwide on January 20th, 2017.