Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Running Time 117 Minutes, Rated PG13
3 Mitch’s out of 5
I held a glimmer of hope for the longest time and then that glimmer had faded. M. Night Shyamalan was all but dead to me, like “Kevin Smith” dead to me. After the amazing “The Sixth Sense”, the super underappreciated “Unbreakable”, and the flawed but still very good “Signs”, M. Night’s production value started going south and fast. To this day, “The Last Airbender” is the only film I’ve given zero stars to, and I consider it the worst the film of all time that I have ever seen. But then came 2015’s “The Visit”. It had Shyamalan’s underlying social commentary and was used to be the underlining story propellant while the horror/mystery was the primary, making it a darn fine “B” genre movie.
Shyamalan’s latest, “Split” is also of the “B” movie cloth and totally in a good way. If you’re gonna do a “B” movie it’s imperative to have some “A” casting and Shyamalan has that with the talented James McAvoy. Here as a man with 23 separate diagnosed split personalities, McAvoy is utterly tremendous. Such separation from one personality to the next, it is a different fully realized persona but just under the hood of one actor. “Split” starts off with one of McAvoy’s personalities abducting three teenagers; Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”), Haley Lu Richardson (“The Young Kieslowski”), and Jessica Sula. Barricaded and held against their will, the three young ladies are promised that they are going to witness something special, the introduction of The Beast; the higher evolution of man which McAvoy astoundingly delivers.
Instead of split personalities being a disease, Shyamalan asks if it is rather man taking the next evolutionary step. Not all the psychology mumbo jumbo jargon in the film plays out effectively and scenes with the girls on their own are not always that strong either, but every time McAvoy is on screen he has your full devotion. There is a twist at the end, and it’s not in the way you would think. The twist has an ongoing development for Shyamalan fans, and as an early Shyamalan fan I am eager to see where this twist plays out.
That’s two in a row for Shyamalan, I hope the streak continues.