For so long the words An M. Night Shyamalan film was something to be dreaded. Then The Visit showed that Shyamalan could still produce a decent if unremarkable movie. Now his latest movie Split is supposedly a return to form and last night I got a chance to see an advance screening of the film before it’s general UK release on Friday.
Three teenagers are kidnapped by a man named Kevin (James McAvoy) who suffers from a form of dissociative identity disorder. Kevin has 23 distinct personality and the 24th is on it’s way, and the girls must escape before he arrives.
Breathe a sigh of relief everyone, for Shyamalan is well and truly back. Long may the likes of The Lady in the Water and The Happening remain a distant memory ! In all serious though Split was a great movie and I really enjoyed watching it. Instead of getting lost on a tangent Shyamalan’s focus seems much clearer in Split, with the story and pacing feeling much tighter then his previous efforts.
The cast is good, and Anna Taylor-Joy makes good on her early promise in The Witch as one of the kidnapped girls. However this is McAvoy’s show, who despite playing numerously distinct different personalities doesn’t descend into caricatures or overacts. Each performace is finely judged and flips between creepy, to humorous to compassionate without drawing you out of the moment.
For those expecting more out and out horror Split is more about building tension and the fear of whether personality number 24 actually exist and what they will be like if they do come out. Some may also be disappointed that, despite the film’s marketing focusing heavily on Kevin’s 23 personalities, we only see a select number of them.
So not up there with The Six Sense or, my personal favourite of his, Unbreakable but Split shows there’s still hope for Shyamalan’s career yet.
Oh and if you are thinking of going to see Split I would do it soon as the last scene is something a lot of people will be talking about (the audience I saw it with was buzzing with chatter as soon as the film ended). So see it before someone spoils it for you.
Rating 4/5 – with some help from McAvoy, Shyamalan is back to making good films-at last!
Nothing good ever happens by going into the woods or living near them. And in this horror there appears to be something horrible lurking in the woods.
In 17th Century New England a puritan family are excommunicated from their plantation due to the father’s radical religious beliefs. Living far beyond civilization on a farm near the woods the family are traumatised when the youngest child, baby Samuel disappears while under the care of eldest daughter Thomasin’s (Anna Taylor-Joy). As the crops begin to fail, suspicions of witchcraft begin to take hold of the family.
The Witch is one of the weirdest films I’ve seen in a while. After it was finished I wasn’t sure what I felt about it. I think I liked it but part of me is still trying to figure out what the hell I just watched. Writer/Director Robert Eggers has crafted a disturbing atmosphere in his début movie. With the family being thrown out from the plantation and left isolated to a malevolent force you are constantly on edge waiting to see what else befalls this family. The film plays into some of our worst fears: that someone is praying on your children and that you may not be able to trust or control what’s going on around you.
The film feels like a strange nightmare that you’ve had after falling asleep reading old fairy tales. From the creepy woods where bad things always happen, a woman in a red hood and of course witches, twisted fairytales have their blueprints all over this. The film may not be to everyones tastes, especially to those expecting to see more of a mainstream horror. This film relies less on jump scares and more on bringing you disturbing images and a forboding score that leaves you unsettled.
The film focuses on a small cast who manage to hold the film together well. The young actors playing the children are engaging and newcomer Taylor-Joy is particularly beguiling as Thomasin. Wheras the parents Ralph Ineson and Katie Dickie are in turn sympathetic and sinister.
I can imagine this being a divisive film, the showing I went to had a few walk outs. Its not a traditional horror movie so anyone looking for that will be disappointed. The filmmaker also did meteculious research into the time period and uses language spoken at the time. While I appreciated the detail that went into making it sound as authentic as possible sometimes I found it difficult to understand what the characters were saying.
Rating 3.5/5 – an unsettling movie that plays on your mind long after