Dir: M. Night Shyamalan, 2016
M. Night Shyamalan seems to be finding his feet again. The psychological storytelling and drawn out narrative are in full force and hark back to his earlier work.
James McAvoy is Kevin. A schizophrenic with 23 personalities, Kevin switches between them with the blink of an eye. However there is a fourth personality that has, yet, to reveal itself; a personality that is strong, forceful and, maybe, even paranormal.
Kevin kidnaps three girls and holds them captive, introducing each personality to the girls until the 24th finally emerges.
Split has all the ingredients to be a superb, enthralling film but its slow pace and uninteresting characters harm the mix and result in a mediocre movie that disappoints when it should fulfil.
McAvoy as the schizophrenic Kevin puts in a brilliant performance, quite possibly the best of his career.
Displaying a wide range of emotions and characteristics, McAvoy saves the film from being boring with such personalities as Hedwig, a lisping and simple member of the 23 that inhabit Kevin’s mind.
The three kidnapped girls don’t appeal to the viewer or cause us to feel anything for them or their welfare. Behaving, at times, stupidly, the girls cause the eyes to roll several times throughout the film.
Shyamalan isn’t entirely sure what genre Split fits into. Treading different paths, the director unsuccessfully balances horror and psychological thriller with drama and supernatural mystery.
Starting superbly, in a short amount of time the hold that the film has on you, loses its grip and just can’t grab you again.
But, the ending is phenomenal. M. Night Shyamalan is notorious for twist endings and the ending to this is better than the film itself. Seriously, it’s worth sitting through just for the very last scene.
However, Split does offer some hope for future Shyamalan projects. The ideas are there and it’s clear that the director can coax great performances from his leads, so it’s promising that we may see another Signs or The Sixth Sense again.
All in all, a good effort that has its moments but is, ultimately, uninvolving and uninteresting.