Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAovy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley
I have been a big fan of the work of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan since I first saw his breakout smash hit The Sixth Sense. His follow up film Unbreakable is one of my favorite movies of all time and from then on I was sold on anything else he made. Signs gave us the best performance of Mel Gibson's career, and The Village was beautiful and haunting even if it relied a bit too much on the "twist ending" trope that had become synonymous with his films. Hell I'd even count myself among one of the very few who enjoyed Lady in the Water! Sadly though he had quite a lot of missteps these last ten years since "Water" was released, with the lone stand outs being his Story By and Producer credits on 2010's Devil and his return to the horror genre with 2015's The Visit which was a promising return to form. So it was with much caution and trepidation that I found myself sitting down to his latest effort. So how does this new film stack up to his early work? Lets dive right in and find out!
Three teenage girls are kidnapped and held prisoner by a man suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Even though these different personalities seem to have their own goals, they all agree on one thing: a new personality called The Beast is coming and the girls are gifts for him.
Now first things first. I know that my plot description sounds very cliche and boring, but trust me when I say there are so many wonderful layers to the film and I just couldn't bring myself to talk about them. Lets be honest though, the less you know going into a "M. Night" film, the better off you'll be. As far as quality goes I'm happy to report this is the best film Shyamalan has made in over a decade. James McAvoy gives a truly award worthy performance as Kevin, slipping effortlessly in and out of his multiple "personalities". The lead "girl" Casey, played Anya Taylor-Joy delivers on all the promise she showed in last years in The Witch. The writing is superb and not only has us explore Kevin's twisted psyche, but develops Casey into a sympathetic and tragic hero. The pacing is spot on and the film has a wonderfully ominous and haunting score by West Dylan Thordson. Of course this wouldn't be a proper Shyamalan film without a twist ending and lets just say this one is very exciting. A contender for one of my "Best of Films 2017" to be sure.
Trivia from IMDB for Split:
James McAvoy broke his hand during production. He decided not to tell anyone and continued to shoot for 2 days before finally going to a hospital.
M. Night Shyamalan hired cinematographer Mike Gioulakis after seeing his work on It Follows (2014), and composer West Dylan Thordson after hearing his music on the TV show The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015).
Like most of his films this movie takes place in M. Night Shyamalan's hometown of Philadelphia. Philadelphia Phillies stickers can be seen stuck to objects throughout the film.