"Split": Movie Review

Updated on January 30, 2017
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Split
Split | Source

M. Night Shyamalan has made a nice little name for himself trying to live up to the promise he delivered with The Sixth Sense way back in 1999. Though nothing he’s done since has quite matched the gut-punch “I see dead people” twist, there have been at least a few glimmers of hope along the way. The Village, Unbreakable, and last year’s The Visit were all better than average and certainly miles ahead of his misfires (or abject disasters) like The Last Airbender and The Happening.

For his latest, Shyamalan chose to completely abandon his need to include a massive twist ending and instead just present a straightforward (for the most part, anyway) horror/suspense film. And though Split ends up relying more than it needs to on been-there-done-that horror clichés, it succeeds nonetheless as a genuinely intense and often scary thriller.

James McAvoy leads the way as a man with dissociative identity disorder. There are 23 separate personalities living inside him. As “Dennis”, he kidnaps three teenage girls from a mall parking lot and locks them in his basement, telling them only that they are “sacred food” for “the Beast”. Two of the girls, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), are best friends and clearly among the popular kids, while Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the class outcast; it’s one of many dynamics that add a fresh and welcome perspective to Split.

As each day goes by, the girls are introduced to other personalities, including naive nine-year-old Hedwig and Miss Patricia, an elderly British schoolmarm. At the same time, Shyamalan intersperses scenes with alternate-personality Barry (an aspiring fashion designer) meeting with his therapist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley). And we also see flashbacks as a young Casey goes on a hunting trip with her father and uncle. The three distinct plot lines combine to unfold the story with deliberate mystery, as we’re given only enough information to keep us guessing as to what’s going on and how it will eventually all come together. Split’s psychological mind games are further heightened by the basement’s confined space; it’s both disorienting and unsettling, making the audience feel almost as trapped.

More than anything, though, Split rises (and rarely falls) on McAvoy’s mesmerizing work creating almost a dozen different characters, giving them each distinct personalities, including tics and accents. It’s a captivating series of performances that may have actually torpedoed the film in lesser hands.

Channeling both Hitchcock and The Silence of the Lambs in equal measure, Shyamalan has crafted a taut thriller that quickly reminds us of his long-ago prowess. Split still can’t top The Sixth Sense (will anything ever?), but it’s a solid reminder that the name formerly synonymous with mind-blowing suspense still has something left in the tank.

Rating

4/5 stars

'Split' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)