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!