“Split” stars James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessica Sula, Haley Lu Richardson, and Betty Buckley. Released on January 20, 2017, the film is about three teenagers who are held captive by a man with 23 different personalities.
The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Happening. I apologize that I couldn’t get to this film sooner. I had been suffering from a cold and, as usual, there were several other films that I needed to catch up on. This is the second film that Shyamalan worked on with producer Jason Blum, with the first being The Visit back in 2015. Before its release, I was quite skeptical on how this film will turn out due to Shyamalan’s track record. Sure, he made some pretty solid films, but he also made films that were completely destroyed by critics and moviegoers, including the live-action adaptation of the Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. With the success of The Visit, it was assumed that Shyamalan may be on the road to redemption. Now, it looks like the assumption may be true due to this film’s positive reviews and box office returns. I finally got a chance to see it for myself, and I’m happy to say that I was impressed with the results.
The cast did a nice job with their performances, but the only actor that stole the show was none other than James McAvoy, who plays Kevin in the film. This guy knows how to creep me out. It must’ve been quite challenging for him to portray many personalities at once without breaking character, but he managed to pull it off with flawless results. I didn’t see McAvoy as an actor, I see him as a guy who’s been taken over by his personalities, including the rumored 24th personality known as “The Beast”. What also made this film work for me was that it uses the atmosphere and the amount of tension to creep out its audience instead of just putting in jump scares every few minutes. Shyamalan successfully gave me the feeling of being helplessly trapped in some room with a creepy person. He did the exact same thing for the three teenagers on screen, who were played by the three talented actresses (Taylor-Joy, Sula, and Richardson). The story wasn’t that complicated to follow along, but it does have some moments where they’re either predictable or a little slow. The film’s final act was a bit far-fetched compared to the other acts, but I was glad that they balanced it out with the film’s atmosphere and grounded tone. Also, fans of Shyamalan’s other film, Unbreakable, may be in for a surprise when they see the last shot of the film before the end credits.
Overall, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” is a well-directed thriller that’s more on the creepiness and tension and less on the cheap jump scares. The story wasn’t as shocking as Shyamalan’s other films, resulting in some predictable moments, but I really enjoyed James McAvoy’s magnetic performance and the film’s grounded tone. I’m pleased to say that if Shyamalan keeps this train going, he’s going to win back his fans in no time. I would recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.