M. Night Shyamalan’s much-anticipated movie has been finally released to generally positive reviews. The director, once regarded as a sensation in the horror genre, has been constantly put down over the past few years due to his rather disappointing films (The Last Airbender springs to mind). Nevertheless, his latest film, Split, is a solid thriller that probably exceeds all of his previous work over the past decade.
The plot revolves around Kevin, a man who suffers from multiple personality disorder, and accordingly has twenty-three different personalities; including a nine-year old kid, a lady, and a perverted man called Dennis, all played by James McAvoy. He kidnaps three teenage girls; Claire, Marcia, and the enigmatic Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). The girls are to be devoured by the twenty-fourth character that is yet to come, The Beast. Meanwhile, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), has to help uncover Kevin’s deeply hidden secret, and to understand the character so-called The Beast which is supposed to have superhuman abilities.
Despite being an entertaining thriller, Split fails to be anything but. The script though engaging and even quite intelligent at times, leaves enough plot holes to frustrate its viewer. The characters, even when performed excellently by the entire cast, lack any real depth to them, and come across as plain stupid at times, especially the kidnapped girls. At certain points, the film seems to fall into some of the disappointing clichés of horror films.
The film may be a compelling endeavor on Shyamalan’s behalf, but it definitely does not add to his oeuvre. However, it certainly adds to McAvoy’s, as he shifts from one character to the next of Kevin’s multiple characters effortlessly. He manages to thrive in all nine characters he gets to play, and his performance seems to be the highlight of the film from the opening titles till the ending credits. In conclusion, Split may be considered a fine film, or even a tiumph, but only on McAvoy’s behalf, and definitely not on Shyamalan’s.