I’ll admit right off the bat, I am not a big M. Night Shyamalan fan. He hasn’t had a film that has caught my attention since The Sixth Sense in 1999, and in my opinion hasn’t had a hit film since then. Yet he still churns out bomb after bomb, despite much negative criticism of his films. But amongst the M. Night Shyamalan ruins, a champion must rise…this champion being Split.
Split revolves around Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), a shy, withdrawn, teenage girl who is hanging out with her classmates Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia at the mall (Jessica Sula) when they are kidnapped by a man named Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). When the girls awaken from a drugged state, they find themselves in an unknown location with no windows. Kevin regularly meets with a psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who is treating Kevin for dissociative identity disorder (DID). In their meetings he never shows up as Kevin, but one of his twenty-three identified personalities. In his mind, these personalities sit in chairs in a room waiting for Barry, the dominant personality, to allow them their turn in “the light”. As a new personality takes a hold on Kevin, his physical demeanor also changes. The personality Barry refuses to let Patricia and Dennis their turns in “the light” because they seem to worship another unknown personality…”The Beast”. As the girls learn of Kevin’s many personalities, they try to play them to their advantage, hoping they’ll manage to escape.
Split is the psychological thriller of the decade. It will leave you not only terrified, but constantly at the edge of your seat pondering what is going to happen next. McAvoy’s performance as an individual with twenty-three different personalities is unlike anything anyone has ever seen on screen before. He is an enigma; a true marvel to watch as he quickly switches between characters right before your eyes. Now is the films representation on individuals with DID expressive of how the disorder really is? No, it’s horribly over dramatized. So don’t let this film skew your perception on a mental illness, and keep in mind that it’s Hollywood.
For those like myself who see the name M. Night Shyamalan and automatically cringe, no need to for this one. Split is a pleasant surprise for any Shyamalan naysayer, and may find a new film to add to their list of favorite thrillers. And for those of you wondering, you will want to stay after the credits for a little something special.