It’s been a bumpy road for director M. Night Shyamalan, directing some massive hits back at the start of his career. After that though the hits stopped coming, and he was labelled a “has-been” by many critics until 2015’s The Visit became a horror classic. Does he continue on his path to glory with Split, or fall by the wayside?
So, is it any good?We’re first introduced to a few teenage girls, of which outsider Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) is portrayed as so obviously the lead. A character we soon identify as Dennis (played by McAvoy), slithers into the film, abducting the teenage girls in a parking lot. It’s creepy and plausibly set up, surely we won’t trust Dennis from here?The film cleverly entraps you through the eyes of Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), as we sit in with a couple of Dennis’ multiple personalities through therapy, understanding dissociative identity disorder. Unbelievably, through either James McAvoy’s outstanding acting, or Shyamalan’s directing, you buy into each of Dennis’ personalities and almost form some sort of empathy. Ominously, there’s a character teased throughout but not introduced until the third act, referred to as “The Beast”. What’s fabulously satisfying is even when you think it’s going to get hokey and degenerate into samey territory, it retains the thrills.
Well that settles that! I’m hoping by when Halloween rolls around this year, rubber James McAvoy masks are a thing, because his role, or “roles” in this, are the stuff of paranoid delusional nightmares. I skipped all of M. Night Shyamalan‘s film’s after The Happening but remain one of the biggest fans of his 2002 effort Signs. Split doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but continues renaissances for M. Night and a career best for James McAvoy.
SPLIT is in cinemas now.