"Split" (2016)

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan
Released: January 20th, 2017
Runtime: 116 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures

Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all of the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the wilful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him -- as well as everyone around him -- as the walls between his compartments shatter.

The first thing I have to say about this film before anything else, is how fantastic an actor James McAvoy actually is. The amount of different characters he had to play one after the other through the simplest and sometimes subtlest of changes in posture, expressions, accent, was something to see. 

After watching the film and then reading back over plot point explanations (I finished it feeling very confused) I have come to the conclusion that as good a film as it is, it’s much too over-complicated than it needs to be. There was just so much going on, so many backstories, so many psychological reasons for this and that. I get that childhood trauma can have a big impact on our future selves but there’s a place called stop. At least it provided a solid explanation for everything that happened.

Much of the plot was quite unbelievable and borders on a fantasy movie. The idea that the body can shape-shift or alter physically based on your mind? Hmm…Not quite sure about one. It’s all very interesting but I began to take the “realness” with a pinch of salt and decided that this must be set in some kind of alternative universe or world to what we live in even if it’s not explicitly state in the film. 

As it turns out, not to give things away, but one of the biggest plot twists at the end was based on another of M Night Shyamalan’s film “Unbreakable”. I’ve never seen this film so the big plot twist went completely over my head. If this film was supposed to be something related to that film, then surely that’s what should be stated during its advertisements? I’m sure there was a way of slipping that in without giving the twist away. At least then those of us who haven’t seen “Unbreakable” could go and watch that before watching “Split” and have some iota what big shocker was going down unbeknownst to us.

To be honest this film underwhelmed me. Interesting concept, fleshed out to the nines perhaps but solid enough basis for a story. It had the potential to be something far more edge-of-your-seat tense. I think it just lost its way somewhere somehow. James McAvoy really is the best thing about the film. The man is chameleon. He makes the film as engaging and watchable as it is and it is for his performance that it will be remembered for.