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M. Night Shyamalan has been hot and cold with the movies that he has written, directed and produced over the years. During a four year stretch in his early days, he could seemingly do no wrong. Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002) captivated both audiences and critics with his mesmerizing storytelling. After that however, his success started to trend down, WAY DOWN, with The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013) being about as low as he could go. Then can the offbeat horror/thriller The Visit (2015), and just like that, Shyamalan appeared to be back in the grove again. Having said that, one successful movie does not signify a rebirth. Now here we are in the early days of 2017 and he’s hoping (maybe desperately) to find success once again. Could Split be the next step of his revolutionary renaissance? Let’s find out.
Three teenage girls leaving a seemingly mundane birthday party are drugged, abducted and locked away in room totally confused as to what just transpired. Kevin (James McAvoy) is a man on a mission with strict marching orders and the “why” is just as disturbing as the “who”. Kevin is not acting on his own. Even though these terrified girls only see a single threat, there are in fact many that wish to do them harm. There’s something wrong with Kevin on a deep level. Kevin suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID) and is the keeper of 23 known distinctively different personalities. Unfortunately for these girls, it the unknown that is the most dangerous threat to their well-being. As the plot unfolds, the story of Split becomes murkier by the minute. Who will be the last person(ality) standing?
James McAvoy (Wanted (2008), The X-Men franchise) has enjoyed a pretty successful and quite versatile career thus far. His portrayal (or portrayals if you will) should absolutely but put up there with his best, if not THE best of his career. McAvoy nails all of the subtle mannerisms will have audiences raising an eyebrow while becoming increasingly engaged with his onscreen metamorphosis at the drop of a dime. Some of this credit needs to go to M . Night Shyamalan for going this route. His visions are not always embraced, and that might be the case here as well. From my point of view, however, he does a great job in his writing, directing and producing of Split.
The supporting cast (that is not named James McAvoy) is led by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch (2015), Morgan (2016)), who continues to climb ladder of horror/thriller success. The other two unfortunate souls stuck in this different kind of hell are Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen (2016)) and Jessica Sula (Skins). You can’t have a compelling story without decent acting and performances across the board can be categorized as such. Due to flashback moments, the cast includes a few more interesting characters. The nice thing about Split is that Shyamalan never really spills the beans too early about any given arc so audiences should be interested in what everyone has to offer.
When M. Night Shyamalan is on his game, fans are the ones that benefit. Thankfully for paying customers, he is. The story provided is a deep one with many twists and turns, but not to the point where anyone should feel lost. As for James McAvoy, he steals the show and will have audiences’ goosebumps on stand-by ready to go at a moment’s notice. The pace slows down a bit at certain points which is to be expected in a complex narrative such as this. Fans of movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) and possibly even Don’t Breathe (2016) should be entertained. If either of those movies caught your eye last year, Split should be on your radar of movies to see.

Split is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


  1. A silence of the lambs wanna be film, ugh he needs to stop making films,telling the audience to not tell the surprise secret ending…totally unreal when the girls are in the car and he approaches the father and they don’t bother to look back or hear anything, you never hear from him again the entire movie, next was the effort to escape..if you hit someone over the head with a chair take his weapon or stab or kill that person if you plan to escape…it was a silly plan to escape, then the doctor going over his home alone was ridiculous…totally dumb plot..I’d trash this movie quickly, there are other things I’d say but enough is enough…one girl who looked like MARCIA BRADY SEEMED LIKE SHE WAS LAUGHING IN HER ROLE MORE THAN SCARED…ughh

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