Director M. Night Shyamalan is known by just about any regular moviegoer by one thing. You are almost 100% guaranteed to a major twist by the end of the film. In the director’s latest psychological thriller, he does not disappoint. The quality of that big twist however will certainly be a major debate between viewers.
Shyamalan’s track record from the directors chair has been spotty at best. His first major film, a little movie you may have heard of called The Sixth Sense blew audiences away. He followed that up with films like Unbreakable (also starring Bruce Willis), The Village and Signs, all of which had some major positives. However, Shyamalan has had a few misfires after that.
Unfortunately his newest film Split also seems to be in the latter group, with more negatives than positives. Split sees actor James McAvoy front and center playing Kevin, a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder. McAvoy is by far the highlight of the movie. The movie opens with him kidnapping three high school girls. Casey (Ana Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are abducted by Kevin and find themselves locked in a small room. The three young women have no idea what Kevin wants, but they soon start meeting the many different personas Kevin possesses.
While the kidnapping of the three girls is the main thread-line of the story, we also follow Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). She plays Kevin’s psychologist and is trying to prove that the different personalities Kevin holds can manifest different physical traits. For instance, one of Kevin’s personalities named Barry suffers from diabetes. He has to take insulin for the disease while none of the other personalities need it. While this plot has some very interesting ideas, it also seems to drag at times.
In the main plot of the film, we learn that Kevin and the rest of his personalities are awaiting a 24th and final personality known only as “The Beast.” This is where the film gets a little convoluted. The girls are apparently being held as sacrifices of sorts for the beast and the film mainly follows their efforts to escape. Ana Taylor-Joy, who starred in last year’s phenomenal horror film The Witch plays Casey. While she does a well enough job in the role, there are numerous flashbacks throughout the movie that never fully pay off. There’s sort of a point at the end to the flashbacks, but it doesn’t really pay off in the end, making the scenes seem pointless for the most part.
Overall, the movie never really succeeds at scares. The biggest highlight of Split has to be actor James McAvoy. While the film seems to drag for the most part, the scenes with Kevin and his multitude of different personalities do manage to entertain. From creepy to comical, McAvoy managed to pull some great scenes out of a movie that is sub-par at best. As mentioned at the beginning, there is a Shyamalan twist at the end. It’s a sort of post-credit scene that feels tacked on at the end as a wink to some of Shyamalan’s serious fans. No giving the ending away, but to many, it will be extremely groan worthy.