This week we saw Split, the new film from Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan, a director who started off so well, with films like The Sixth Sense; Signs and Unbreakable but seemed to lose his way with bigger budgets like After Earth and The Last Airbender.
We had heard this was a return to form for him, so we decided to give it a chance.
Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) is a sufferer of DID (dissociative identity disorder) who has 23 different personalities, with different ages and genders and sexual preferences ranging from a small boy called Hedwig to an older female known as Patricia.
One of the more prominent personalities known as Dennis, has revealed a 24th is on the way, known as The Beast.
As part of The Beast’s arrived, Kevin has kidnapped 3 teenage girls; Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy); Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) who are to all be sacrificed to the beast.
One of Kevin’s personalities, Barry, has been trying to alert his psychologist Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley) but at every meeting, Dennis manages to take over.
We follow the 3 girls as they try to escape from Kevin, but are eventually all separated from each other. We also follow in particular Casey and her troubled back story. She looks the most likely to be able to assist in nay escape by bonding with the various personalities, in particular, the 9-year-old Hedwig.
The Beast, who has superhuman levels of strength, speed and other traits of predators from the animal kingdom, which we learn from Dr Fletcher, could have come from the fact that Kevin’s hideout is in a Zoo, so his DID has taken the animal personas to form this 24th personality.
To say anything else would give away too much of this film but this really is a return to form for Shyamalan (who also has a cameo in the film, as someone who helps Fletcher study Kevin’s movements on CCTV when leaving her office)
The explanation of the super creature ‘Beast’ personality is also justified, but if you try to find out why could ruin the film for you, this really is a film best to go in not knowing anything about.
Whilst no really a scary film, it is very tense and is definitely more in line with Silence of the Lambs as a psychological thriller than a horror film. Some of the flashbacks to Kevin and Casey and the abuse they received as children can also be hard to watch but are needed to explain the characters closed natures.
The score by West Dylan Thordson also helps the film but it is down to the excellent lead performance by McAvoy to make this a truly memorable film. He is also aided by another excellent performance by Taylor-Joy, who was so impressive in The Witch, clearly a Scream Queen in the making.
We did feel that maybe the film could have been slightly shorter but its tense story made for a good watch, and it is one that has stayed with us after coming out of the cinema. The film’s ending does suggest we could see Kevin again and we would certainly be interested to see what The Beast plans next.
You can view the film’s trailer at its website here:
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