Review: Split (2017)

Psychiatry patient Kevin (James McAvoy) was diagnosed with 23 different personalities; when a group of them conspire together to welcome a 24th, three girls are abducted and subjected to their startling quirks¬†and lay in wait for the arrival of “The Beast.”

Split was advertised as a thriller and that it was; it contained appropriate portions of thrill, horror, drama, and comedy. However, M. Night Shyamalan (bless his heart) does not have a background in comedy and it showed. Ignoring his flaws momentarily, he does know how to tell an engaging, meaningful story with an eerie backdrop. James McAvoy proves yet again that he’s capable of rocking a shaved head and dazzles us with his seamless transitions between personalities. The personalities weren’t as far spaced on the spectrum as I was expecting but regardless, the ones that were most prevalent or “in the light” were strongly defined and easily recognizable. Anya Taylor-Joy’s troubled and stone-faced performance was also a success in contrast to her impressive break out role in The Witch.

There were several moments when things could have gone terribly wrong for Split; however, they did not but the balance between cheesy and acceptable was swaying crazily. Towards the final minutes, the fantasy aspect of Split comes to rise but it stays within acceptable boundaries. On the surface, this may seem like shiny, sleek psychological thriller; instead, it turned out to be a straightforward story of broken people and their sometimes extreme forms of survival. Although the subject matter isn’t garishly frightful, the realism is what makes it unsettling.

Overall, this is a “good” for M.(Mostly Bad, Sometimes Good) Night Shyamalan; the cast was solid, their performances weren’t showy, and the story they told together wasn’t at all expected but no less entertaining or thought provoking.

 

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