Writer: M Night Shyamalan (Screenplay)
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley
Plot: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: M Night is Back
Story: Split starts as we see outsider Casey (Taylor-Joy) being offered a lift home by her class mates Claire (Richardson) and Marcia (Sula) only to find Dennis (McAvoy) kidnapping them. Waking up they find themselves locked in a room only to find Dennis is just one of the personalities keeping them there.
The film follows how the darker personalities a waiting a beast figure to arrives keep the girls locked up while Barry is still seeing his therapist who has been helping his personality disorder for years. We are left to see just which personality we are going to meet each scene as we learn more about his past as well as learning Casey isn’t as helpless as she looks.
Thoughts on Split
Story – The story here comes along to tackle the mental illness and the multiply personality disorder people can suffer from. We do have the kidnapping angle which we have seen many times before but somewhere along the line this film accepts that horror movies exist because the character decisions are based on seeing them. Where this story stands out is in the pure storytelling aspects because we get clues along the way and each scene builds the suspense for the final outcome of the film, which does have a killing twist.
Horror/Thriller – We have the kidnapping side of the story which is the horror of the unknown purpose but this film really shines on the psychologic thriller side as we are left guessing through every single scene.
Characters/Performance – I will look at the doctor who I do feel is professional questionable throughout this film and the girls are two basic kidnap victims while the third is the ever popular prepared for this scenario. Now the performances are all good here with Anya Taylor-Joy once against shining in the horror genre.
Now discussion James McAvoy is always going to be a mix of character and performance because he portrays each character with everything the personality requires, be it the intense level of Dennis, the childish mannerisms of Hedwig or the Barry character that seems to be in control. McAvoy gives a performance that could get people talking about why horror never gets considered for awards because this performance could well be in the top by any actor this year and he deserves all the praise he is getting.
Settings – The film does seem to be set within just a few locations with the kidnapped arena if you like, the doctor’s office and Casey’s memories. This does help us understand the direction of the film and what leads to everything that goes on through the film.
Special Effects – We only have a few moments of special effects but they all work for how the film unfolds and not turning to them for the important final act.
Final Thoughts – The Visit bought M Night back in the right direction but this proves that this guy can give us a fantastic horror thriller that makes every single scene mean something once you know all the pieces.
Overall: This is a fantastic thriller that people are going to love and hate but I feel this is one we should be seeing if you are a fan of M Night more popular work.