To this very day, M.Night Shyamalan is one of my top 5 favourite film directors. Surprising us with directional films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & Signs, many people would say M.Night has also had his fair share of disappointing films (After Earth or Lady In The Water). I’ve personally always had a soft spot for seeing his films on the big screen regardless. Even when I heard that of some of his films had failed at the box office, I always still found a high volume of creativity and skill. No matter what people say, M.Night never gives up and is happy to dream big and is still filming great thrillers today. Recent films include “The Visit” & “Split”.
** Please note – Due to the risk of spoilers, I have made this review shorter than normal.
The film’s story kicks into motion within a matter of seconds. ‘Split’ starts with 3 teenage girls attending a lunch party. We are given a very brief (but subtle) understanding of who these girls are. While leaving the lunch party, the 3 teenagers are attacked by an unknown man (James McAvoy). The 3 young teenagers wake up in a small room together and discover they cannot escape.
Very quickly they discover more about their unknown kidnapper. As it turns out, he is not a normal man. The strange man that is holding them captive holds up to 23 different (and distinct) personalities. Are these personalities good, bad or most importantly … could he create even more personalities over time? Our Kidnapper regularly visits Dr Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who reveals more insight into the character and give us more tense moments as the film progresses.
As the audience, we are required to be patient to find out more information about the film’s characters along the way. The major strength of this film comes from the acting talent of James McAvoy. This actor absolutely blew me away. Seeing James McAvoy walking around as a paranoid male one minute and then changing the character to an older women walking around in high heels the next minute had me amused but also creeped out. It was also fun to watch our leading ladies trying to figure out what on earth is going on with this psychotic kidnapper and learning safe ways they can interact with the strange man’s personalities (remember there up to 23 of them!).
Movie lovers who enjoy a good psychological thriller need to add this film to your watch list. While the film’s plot and villain is somewhat basic, there is a great amount of talented acting, solid character development and the film making is outstanding (as expected from M.Night). Fans of M.Night will know what to expect and leave the cinema feeling content. The film’s ending left me on a such a high to the point that I was speaking out loud and shaking with excitement. But that’s a conversation for another day…
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Review Written by Peter Walkden