Split - Review
Oh, M. Night Shyamalan, how are you able to draw us in with such interesting concepts and ideas and yet deliver such nonsensical thrillers and unintentional comedies. Split, which stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, is about Kevin (McAvoy) who suffers from Dissociative identity disorder or DID. Kevin has twenty-three different personalities living inside him, but we only really get to know around five of them. I know what you’re thinking, maybe telling us there were twenty-three personalities was just a draw, and the other personalities Shyamalan has written will be somewhat interesting? Well that would be true if we didn’t have to hear lame and confusing dialogue not just from Kevin, but from the other characters as well. Here comes Dr. Karen Fletcher, performed by Betty Buckley. To be fair she isn’t the worst part of the film, and with a screenplay as laughable as this one, she deserves some sort of recognition for saying some of these lines with a straight face and not bursting out in uncontrollable laughter. If you’re wondering, yes I did burst out in uncontrollable laughter at times. There is an actual scene where she is explaining how one personality can have high cholesterol but the other can have a healthy heart. I know Shyamalan is trying to tell us how our mind is stronger than our body, but it’s hard to take that seriously when one of the personalities is a nine-year old boy named Hedwig. Hedwig has a lisp so overused and played out that impossible not for you and your friends to do silly impersonations of him immediately after the credits roll.
Let’s get to the three girls kidnapped by Kevin. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Casey, the stereotypical basket case girl with a traumatic past who is the girl you’re supposed to root for. Her two classmates Claire and Marcia, performed by Hayley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula. These two characters could have been a little more fleshed out. They have a decent amount of screen time for horror eye candy, yet they just think of ideas on how to beat him and escape. We only really get to know Casey, and all I can think of is can this poor girl catch a break? I won’t go into too much detail on her past because that’ll be spoiler territory, but I’ll let you know that Shyamalan doesn’t have the directing skills in order to tackle such a heavy and upsetting topic. The way he executes some of his ideas are just plain weird. Even in a situation where three girls are kidnapped by a full-grown man diagnosed with DID, some elements just seem out of place.
Now for what we’ve all been waiting for, the twenty-forth personality, The Beast. Who is The Beast? What are his origins? Why can he scale walls and bend metal bars with his bare hands? Well telling you everything would still give too much away. These girls are meant to be offering to The Beast, and the other personalities are working for it. They do explain why, but I found it way to silly to be taken seriously, which this movie so desperately wants you to do. When The Beast is on screen, McAvoy constantly growls and displays a grin so laughably over the top it’s something to actually be admired. I really was hoping that we would see something original from this killer creature that the other “twenty-three” personalities were building up so much, but it just came down to being plain and boring.
Split is a movie with a lot of promises but poor execution and an unsatisfying conclusion. M. Night Shyamalan is known for his twist endings. This one happens to have two, I think? One of the twists is just an unsatisfying way to end a movie that was roller coaster of all the wrong emotions to sit through. The other one came so far out of left field, I felt like I walked out of this film and sat in the ending for a different movie. The critics and audiences seem to like this movie, and by the time this review goes up, it already had made over 100 million dollars at the box office. I will say it is nowhere near as bad as Shyamalan’s previous flops. But to end the review on a positive note it is a step in the right direction, and it seems to be a return to form for the once prominent director. I’ve personally just never have been a fan of his work with the exception of The Sixth Sense. Hopefully one day he can deliver a great horror film with a twist that’s as satisfying as he advertises.