Director M. Night Shyamalan breaks the boundaries of the mind with his latest psychological thriller, Split. Debuting number one at the box office this weekend, the film not only shows James McAvoy give a stunning performance, but sets very dark themes and more shockingly, an insane twist at the end that has left audiences’s stunned.
If you’re wondering what has gotten so many people talking about this new movie, then you may not be too familiar with M. Night Shyamalan. The director who is known for his earlier works like The Sixth Sense, Signs, and more recently, The Visit, is accustomed to bringing very odd and open ended stories that largely deal with bigger forces than we can control. With Split, we are given a man named Kevin Cram (McAvoy) who has 23 distinct personalities that live inside him and that can come to life at any time.
The premise is brilliant. Kevin, who is largely taken over by three personalities named “Dennis”, “Patricia”, and “Hedwig”, abducts three young women and imprisons them, promising their sacrifice for “The Beast” is going to change the world.
For the longest time you may wonder what “The Beast” actually is. Throughout the film you will be given stories and evidence of what these personalities can do in the human brain, concluding that all of these personalities can merge into one super human being. With this alone, the psychological aspect of McAvoy’s character is deeply disturbing and fascinating at the same time.
One of the more enjoyable things for me however, was how dark this film really was. Shyamalan is no stranger to weird and a little edgy, but Split offers more traumatic themes such as sexual abuse and mental illness than I was expecting. The story, that’s largely based off psychosis, is also based off trauma. Throughout the film there are moments that intertwine with one of the young females that sheds light on her imprisonment.
Before we dive into spoilers, the last thing I want to mention is how incredible the acting of James McAvoy is. McAvoy is literally a one man band throughout the entire movie. Within seconds, he can change his complete body, facial expressions, and personality of his character like “Hedwig”, who is a nine year old boy; or “Patricia”, who is an upkeep woman that is eerily similar to Norman Bates. As the film progresses, the ending and physical changes of his character will shock you and make you think twice of what you are actually watching.
Okay, for those who have NOT seen the film, SPOILER ALERT NOW!
The ending of Split happens to be the most bizarre twist in the entire movie. As McAvoy’s character escapes and is talking to himself in a mirror about his supernatural abilities, the film cuts to a small diner with the news being broadcast on the TV. The newscaster refers to Kevin as “The Horde”, which causes someone to bring up about a similar man in Philadelphia that was in a wheelchair. Here we are revealed to an older Bruce Willis, who simply says “Mr. Glass”. This is the same character from Shyamalan’s older movie, Unbreakable which is a take on the superhero genre where a man can’t physically be harmed.
What we see in this small scene shows that these two films are connected. Could it be that Shyamalan created a ‘thematic sequel’ to Unbreakable without anyone knowing? Does this mean that we could potentially see Bruce Willis go toe to toe with James McAvoy in a third movie? Only time will tell, but the satisfaction of seeing that idea together is great.
Final Score: 9/10
What did you think of Split? Was it a favorite from Shyamalan? Are you hopeful for a sequel? Let us know in the comments below!