<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus
Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes
M. Night Shyamalan is still making movies… you have to give him props for persistence. And in Split he has managed to redeem himself every so slightly, mostly due to great performances by his cast.
James McAvoy plays Kevin. He also plays Dennis, Miss Patricia, Jade, Barry, and many more. These 23 personalities are his alters. He has dissociative identity disorder or in common terms: split personality. Did you know that people with this disorder can actually manifest totally different personas within one body. So if you one persona is a fashion designer, the other one may have diabetes, which won’t affect the fashion designer. It’s chilling, and a trait that the director/writer M. Night Shyamalan has exploited to tell this macabre tale.
Dennis abducts three girls – Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) – and imprisons them in a large basement below an unknown location. To what purpose, we aren’t entirely sure. It sort of reminds you of the plot from 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Kevin, the primary personality, is being treated for his ‘disorder’ by Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who champions the cause of this ‘disease’, calling it a gateway to the supernatural.
Split is an interesting film about how people who are ‘broken’ manifest their grief and trauma in different, sometimes super human ways. The girl Casey knows that she can’t try and fight her way out of this situation so she tries and reasons with Dennis and his other personas. But little does she know that a new super persona called ‘the beast’ is about to be unleashed.
If it weren’t for McAvoy’s very creepy and dexterous flip-flopping between several personalities, this film could have been a tad tame. The premise of multiple personalities creating almost super human individuals and explored in this way is pretty genius. So kudos to M. Night Shyamalan who has shown us that he is still in the game. But will those great twists in the tale ever be resurrected? Maybe.