After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.
To be honest, I have not watched many of M. Night Shyamalan’s films and have heard some scathing opinions about a lot of his most recent titles. From those that I have seen, I was somewhat surprised to learn that The Sixth Sense and After Earth were written and directed by the man himself. Split however, was certainly well done in my opinion and I believe many would agree it’s one of his best films to date.
The overall story is filled with mystery, suspense, subtlety and even the occasional humor. While I found myself rooting for Casey in her endeavour to escape, I was also intrigued to discover the backstory behind her kidnapper which was slowly revealed piece by piece at a nice and fitting pace. Subtle references in certain scenes also gave the storyline more depth which ultimately made it more memorable for me. While there are a minor handful of scenes that I found somewhat predictable, I was still able to enjoy and focus harder on the unravelings of answers to bigger questions in my mind.
What really carries this story are the performances of its fantastic cast, centering around the characters of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley).
McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb suffers dissociative identity disorder as 23 unique individuals. As someone who has had experience with acting for stage and screen, I can only imagine the mental and physical challenges of portraying that range of personalities in a strange and creepy undertone. Sure there are a lot of actors who have comically played more than one character in certain films, but this is one of the few times I have seen it in a serious role.
Of the three teenage girls abducted, Casey stands out not only as a main character but also as the most socially unique. Claire and Marcia are portrayed as the idea of typical teenage girls seen in many films while Casey is introduced as someone who is quiet and deprives herself from others for unknown reasons. I believe this role has the potential for Taylor-Joy to expand her career opportunities.
Buckley as Dr. Fletcher shines as a symbol of hope in her attempts to help Kevin throughout some of the film’s biggest unravelings. She struck me as a talented and experienced actress which was a great casting decision at the end of the day.
Like The Sixth Sense, Split is suspenseful, thought-provoking and mysterious with outside the box thinking that pulls the story together, followed by outstanding performances of its cast. Shyamalan made a brave move in writing and directing this film and I hope to see more from him in the future.
DVD Releases: 3rd May 2017
Duration: 117 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, James McAvoy, Haley Lu Richardson
Director: M. Night Shayamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable)
M. Night Shyamalan stated that shooting this film was the most challenging of his career
Joaquin Phoenix was originally cast for the role of Kevin but couldn't do it due to scheduling difficulties, so James McAvoy took his place. Joaquin Phoenix and the production couldn't reach a contract agreement and James McAvoy was cast in the lead.
James McAvoy had previously played someone suffering from multiple personality disorder in the film Filth (2013)
According to M. Night Shyamalan, 'Split' is his longest movie to this date.
M. Night Shyamalan stated that he hired cinematographer Mike Gioukakis after seeing his work on It Follows (2015) and composer West Dylan Thordson after hearing his music on the TV show The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015).
Will be the second film collaboration for M. Night Shyamalan and Jason Blum, the other being The Visit (2015).
The first film directed by Shyamalan to use a different composer other than James Newton Howard since Wide Awake (1998).
At the AFI Fest screening, Betty Buckley referred to herself as "the crazy lady from The Happening".