Split (2016)

split poster 2016 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

A return of Shyamalan

Could have pushed it even further

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Split

Studio:   Blinding Edge Pictures

Genre(s):   Horror/Mystery/Suspense/Comic Book

Release Date(s):   September 26, 2016 (Fantastic Fest)/January 20, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

split hedwig casey anya taylor joy james mcavoy

Hey, Hedwig….angry inch?

Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson) is forced to ask Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) to her party.  When Claire’s father agrees to take Claire, Casey, and Claire’s friend Marcia (Jessica Sula) home after the party, tragedy strikes and the girls find themselves kidnapped by Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) who is suffering from dissociative identity disorder.  Kevin’s multiple personalities are raging and each personality seems to have different abilities.  As Kevin’s psychologist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) questions what Kevin is doing, Casey, Claire, and Marcia must find a way to escape…but Kevin and his personalities worry that a monster is coming and the true evil will be seen.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Split is a horror suspense thriller.  The film received some criticism for the continued stigmatization of mental problems like DID.  The movie was released to a strong box office review.

Due to the content of the movie, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.  Shyamalan started out strong with his first few films, but he faltered…badly.  With The Visit and Split, M. Night Shyamalan may have gotten over his slump.

split psychology betty buckley

I know it is your specialty, but this guy is crazy, lady!

Shyamalan built his success upon the twist, and Split has a twist that isn’t really a twist.  A twist would be something that would really effect the story, but here it is more of a surprise.  Split exists in the world of Unbreakable with the appearance of Bruce Willis at the end.  The character from Split was originally intended to be part of Unbreakable but cut for time.  Here, Shyamalan manages to craft a strong story from pieces of the Unbreakable script and the fact that he isn’t building to a true twist makes it more enjoyable.

The cast for the film is quite strong.  It is anchored by James McAvoy who gets the ideal role as an actor by playing the multiple personality character.  He gets fun of being a ton of characters in one which allows her to ham it up while it still feels right.  Anya Taylor-Joy holds her own as the “final girl” who has secrets of her own.  I also like Betty Buckley as the psychiatrist trying to unwrap McAvoy’s character.  The big reveal of course is the uncredited cameo as Bruce Willis as David Dunn.

split beast bend bars james mcavoy

Letting the Beast out!

The movie looks good.  It is rather limited due to the story, but Shyamalan makes the best use of the confined quarters of Crumb’s home.  The movie takes a different spin when Crumb’s monster comes and has some impressive special effects that really look natural when Crumb’s monster is in control…it is horrifying and scary (though I think Shyamalan could have even pushed the wall and ceiling climbing further a la Exorcist III).

Split gives me some hope about Shyamalan.  He was soaring high and fell hard, but it shouldn’t make you disregard his earlier works.  Unbreakable was my favorite of Shyamalan’s movies and I am happy that a sequel has finally come to fruition since it was an origin story.  With the success of Split, a sequel circling around Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass and continuing this storyline was released as Glass in 2019.

Related Links:

Unbreakable (2000)

Glass (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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