It’s hard to get excited about anything that M. Night Shyamalan puts out these days. Outside of two of his earliest movies (The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable), his work simply hasn’t been any good. Even with that being the case, I always find myself hoping that he’ll be able to recapture that magic he had all those years ago. With Split, we don’t get that kind of quality, but it’s easily his best work since the years when I was actually excited about movies of his.
We don’t waste time getting into just about everything that needs to be seen here in Split. We meet three teenage girls who are eventually kidnapped by Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). Their circumstance would be scary enough, but when it’s revealed that he suffers from Dissociative identity disorder (DID), things become even more bleak for the young ladies. In order to make it out alive, they’re going to need to think fast. If they don’t, they’ll devoured one by one by what Crumb calls “The Beast.”
Split isn’t a great movie, but it’s certainly not what can be considered terrible. I’d venture to say that it’s a middling to slightly above average movie that also stands as M. Night’s best work since Unbreakable 17 years earlier. That movie (which starred Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson) was not only wonderful, it was the best film the complex director has ever made, so I’m clearly not saying this one is anywhere near that unique take on superhero origins stories.
While Split doesn’t come close to that level, it has a legitimate amount of positives that are hard to ignore. That’s mostly due to the concept and the acting from James McAvoy and to an extent, Anya Taylor-Joy. She has her time to do her little thing, but McAvoy is the show. In reality, that shouldn’t be a shock since he’s the one being asked to play a character with over 20 personalities at his disposal.
Watching him is fine, but the film focused on showing some of his personalities more than developing his character in a way that would allow us to learn more about him. Ultimately, all of his personalities are one dimensional with no depth. Seeing as how much they have to do, what his personalities mean and what the film is actually about, it’s understandable, so I can’t hold that against them too much here.
With it coming in at a little under 2 hours, I doubt I’ll watch this again. However, Split is honestly worth at least one viewing for anyone who won’t be frightened by the thought of young girls being kidnapped by such a dangerous character. I say that because of its intriguing concept and questions about some of the more psychological aspects of life even though that stuff may not be all that realistic. I guess I’d also watch the ending of the film again, but we won’t speak about that for reasons that should be obvious. The only thing I’ll say about that is that it is fantastic.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Haley Lu Richardson
Brad William Henke
Film Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: January 20, 2017
Distributor: Universal Pictures
- Score - 6/106/10