Split (2016) Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson. IMDB says: “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.”
Split starts off with highschool friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) at a birthday party with an unwanted guest. Fellow classmate and notorious loner Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) was a pity invite and after her ride is a no-show Claire’s father offers to give Casey a ride home with the other girls. After the girls get into the car the two friends in the backseat are too distracted to notice something going on behind them as Claire’s father is loading up the trunk. The gentleman who enters the car, Dennis (James McAvoy), is not their father and after some aerosol chloroform and a car ride they don’t remember, the girls wake up in a locked room together. They soon meet their captor, or should I say captors?
Shyamalan has once again delivered a powerful piece of cinema. As I clearly took a long journey chronicling his up and down cinematic ventures during 2015’s The Visit review, we won’t go through all of that again. Starting with The Visit we were able to see Shyamalan begin a return to a form of sorts, a form that had been lacking in recent years after he put out several disappointing features. Now we are treated to the second collaboration with Blumhouse productions and boy is it an intense ride.
The story is pretty clever and the way Shyamalan interweaves the various subplots that coexist is brilliant. On the surface, we have the main plot with the kidnapping of the girls and their introduction to the various personalities that present themselves from their captor. Dennis keeps referencing the coming of a beast and that the girls are a present for some sort of feast that is to take place. This all seems a bit strange at first to mention but by the end all will make sense as everything unfolds. On top of this we also have a flashback plot about a very young Casey which explains why she is so far removed from everyone else. Lastly we have a plot between “Dennis” and his therapist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who is studying his dissociative identity disorder. Both subplots are an integral part of the story that help explain and expand on the characters we are involved with.
The performances are all on point especially from McAvoy, Taylor-Joy and Buckley. The other girls are just as good as well but they don’t have nearly the amount of screentime. Ever since The Witch, I have been a fan of Anya Taylor-Joy and been looking forward to seeing her in more roles. Veteran actress Betty Buckley has been acting for quite some time and her performance is the perfect head-butter to McAvoy’s multiple sides. Bringing us to the most important person that the entire movie hinges on…James McAvoy. Without someone as talented as McAvoy this movie could have easily not worked at all. McAvoy was able to play scary, funny, flamboyant, creepy and bat-shit crazy separately just at the right moments to build the tension for the films climax that had me saying “WTF” in my head.
I won’t go into anymore story details as I don’t want to spoil any surprises or major reveals, but you should for sure go check this film out this weekend. If you like your thriller/horror flicks dark and creepy with an occasional laugh or two, then this movie is just right for you.
FTS SCORE: 88%
Split is in theaters on January 20, 2017.