Published on February 28th, 2017 | by Luna Kohut0
“Split” is a smart and satisfying new horror movie released in early 2017 that twists the themes of trauma, fate and sinister absurdity. The director of this movie, M. Night Shyamalan, is known for making movies with modern supernatural plots and twist endings. One of his most well-known films is “The Sixth Sense”, a movie that shocked the world with its surprise conclusion and set high standards for this ingenuitive director and his new style of film.
Many viewers, including myself, were drawn in by the very different concept that the film follows. The trailer for the movie introduced the narrative of three friends being kidnapped by a man with multiple personality disorder. James McAvoy is the actor that portrays the complex character of Kevin, a man who has twenty-three different personalities. The movie itself begins with the sudden and frightening abduction of three teenage girls by a character the audience comes to know as Dennis, who is one of the many personalities of Kevin. After they are taken, they soon realize that Dennis is not alone as they meet more of Kevin’s personalities and scramble for a way to befriend one of them enough to get out.
The story goes between on and off-screen scenes that go into the past of some of the characters to build the plot more extensively. One of Kevin’s characters reveals in the trailer that a new personality is coming and that “he’s done awful things to people and he’ll do awful things to you” and much of the storyline adheres to this statement. A lot of the action comes from Casey, the heroine of the film, played by Ana Major Turner. Turner’s performance is inspiring and is one of the aspects of the film that does not disappoint. Her past roles in suspenseful films like “The Witch” and “Morgan” set her out as a strong young actress and her complex role in this film proves that yet again. She plays the character with a balance between quiet submission and bold fearlessness, and moves the audience with her story of overcoming childhood abuse and using her past struggles to help her in the traumatic situation she’s placed in. The roles of the other two girls in captivity, Claire and Marcia, are overshadowed by Turner and McAvoy’s performances. I thoroughly enjoyed these two actors performances, but the addition of these two other girls seemed like an afterthought. Their roles did not influence the plot of the movie very much and I think it would have been more beneficial if their characters were added in a more important way. It was treated as if they were just embellishments to organize the narrative, and that did not set well with me.
Another aspect I was displeased with was how the movie did not quite live up to the hype and excitement set in the trailers. While there were a few bloody, action-packed and tense scenes, the film was decorated also with unnecessarily long scenes of characters, such as Kevin’s therapist, played by Betty Buckley, talking without end about multiple personality disorder which seemed a bit repetitive. In my opinion, the best parts of the film were not the jump scare parts, but the psychological aspect to the horror, and how well McAvoy executed playing twenty four roles. One last feature that I did enjoy was the setting of the film. I thought that the cinematography and the design of the set and choice of costumes fit very well to the plot and to the characters. Although I appreciate his style, Shyamalan was not at the top of his writing and directing game in this film, although a slight reference to his past film “Unbreakable” pleased the audience greatly. Overall, I would recommend seeing “Split” to view McAvoy in what I would say is his best role yet.