Shyamalan is back and Split is what we have all waited for.
M. Night Shyamalan is back at the top level with new film Split. The film was highly anticipated among the cinephile community. Indeed, Shyamalan, a writer and director who practically created his own genre, was met with some controversies these last few years. He is making a terrific comeback, at the edge of the horror genre while tackling some deep issues in the plot.
Cassie (Anya Taylor-Joy), Clair (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped after a birthday party by one of the 23 different personalities living inside Kevin’s (James McAvoy) body. Another one of his personalities tries to reach out his psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), in order to save the teenagers. Locked inside a windowless room, the girls try to fight back and escape but they rapidly realise the great instability of their dangerous abductor. But Kevin will have to face a brand new personality…
James McAvoy is brilliant in his role, personifying many characters during almost two hours. Indeed, the actor goes from a giggling 9-year-old boy called Hedwig, to the methodical cleaning maniac Dennis, passing by the ruthless Mrs. Patricia. He makes us nervous, laugh, cry, and pity this complex character. Anya Taylor-Joy also delivers a flawless performance in the clever outsider Cassie, while Betty Buckley magnificently plays the trustworthy and naive psychiatrist. The casting was absolutely fantastic and made of this great story an outstanding film.
The intense plot carries the audience into not only a thrilling supernatural adventure but one that will leave you shivering. Although the film in itself is, as usual, not plot-centered, it delivers a subtle philosophical message of great depth and explores the psychology of his peculiar characters. It cannot only be described as a psychological drama about kidnapping and mental disorders, nor a film, at the edge of the fantastic-kind, exploring the possibilities of the human brain, and is still not a story engaging in the issue of abuse. It is all these at the same time. It touches every single of those issues with attention and dark humour, highlighting the uniqueness of this movie, and that it is not a pale copy of what has already been done on the subject.
Still, the director is famous for mastering final mouth-dropping twist, and while Split’s final revelation might not be considered as surprising Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999), the film does not seem to be in need of such thing. It looks neat and thoughtful as we are used to in Shyamalan’s films. Some people might argue that they were especially waiting for this characteristic feature, but people can only be surprised if they are not expecting it. The directing is exquisite with some camera shots in the director’s special style. It has to be said that if filmed otherwise that the film would have not been as extraordinary as it is.
Finally, Split rediscovers Shyamalan’s cinematic approach. It has everything: great plot, philosophical meaning, a twist, deepness in the characters psychology. The film can be much appreciated by people watching one of Shyamalan’s films for the first time. And for long-time fans, you will love the little easter egg at the end of the movie, which might be a clue about a future sequel that Shyamalan was never able to do.
Split (2016), directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is distributed in the UK by Universal Pictures. Certificate 15.