'Split' Marks M. Night Shyamalan's Return
“The broken are the more evolved,” McAvoy’s final personality, The Beast, says in M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film “Split.” The line provides a full-circle understanding of why each scene was critically placed in their particular order.
Shyamalan’s insolent movie divulges into the narrative of three teenage girls, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), and their trials and tribulations after being abducted and held captive by a disturbed man. The man, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), has multiple personalities.
Crumb’s first personality we meet is Dennis, a man suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) who enjoys dancing with naked teenage girls, and then Patricia, a grand dame and forever student. Then there is Hedwig, the nine-year-old, naïve child who is taken advantage of throughout the story. These are just a few of the 24 personalities that inhabit Kevin’s body.
To distinguish between characters, major changes occur in wardrobe and accent work, and minor changes such as facial expressions and the look in Crumb’s eyes. “Split” denotes the term psychiatrists disposed of 20 years ago. Split personalities, now known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID), is a coping mechanism used at large by child abuse victims. Over time, they learn to give their brain to someone else and hide behind someone stronger, wiser or even more innocent.
Throughout the movie, there are many twists and turns as we learn why the girls were taken and who the strange man inhabited by these different people is. The movie also includes flashbacks of the main protagonist, Casey. These flashbacks allow the audience to understand why she responds to situations the way that she does, instead of instantly following every idea that the other anxious girls can think of to escape. We learn the lesson that sometimes, the smartest rule is to simply cooperate and observe the surroundings instead of moving immediately out of sheer determination, which can ultimately lead to trouble or demise.
This film will have you on the edge of your seat as you watch McAvoy change into his multiple personalities in the blink of an eye. The audience didn’t know whether to laugh or wince at the many twists, turns, successes and downfalls that are involved in the film. It has just enough chaos, obligating the audience to stay glued to their seats so it can all unfold. In the end, it comes full circle and allows the viewer to make the connections that are not laid out in plain sight.
“Split” is clever, wonderfully crafted and cast, especially within the female leads, including the beloved psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The audience couldn’t help but talk to the screen as if they were there.
James McAvoy has received the utmost praise for pulling off this gargantuan sized role, or roles. He brought to life personalities that ranged from a diabetic teenage girl to a seasoned historian, without breaking a sweat. Director and screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan, who the public stopped expecting anything new from, has done an astounding job bringing this “Escape Room” story to life. This may be his comeback.
“Split” is a dark thriller must-see for those ready for an emotional roller coaster full of heart palpitating suspense, partial comedic relief and disturbing surprises and connections.