M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie, “Split,” came to theaters recently, looking to ‘split’ from the run of questionable movies made by the director in previous years.
The movie begins at a teenage girl’s birthday party. Casey, an introverted outsider, needs a ride, so another girl’s father offers to drive her home. In the parking lot, with the girls in the car, a quiet struggle ensues in the back and a different man, played by James McAvoy gets into the car. Before they can realize it they are drugged and taken to a hidden, underground room.
The three girls, Claire, Marcia, and Casey have no idea what to expect until the man comes in stating that they need to be good. As the movie progresses, the fact that the man has different personalities becomes evident to the girls. “Dennis,” the version that kidnapped them, enjoys watching girls dance naked and has obsessive-compulsive disorder; “Patricia” is a womanly character who assures the girls that “Dennis” will not harm them; “Hedwig” is a nine-year-old version who is immature, but very conniving. Through talks with his therapist, it is shown that the man has 23 personalities, but a 24th one, known as “The Beast,” may be coming to the surface.
“Split” is all in all a horror film, as the pace is slow but keeps you entertained all the way through. Around the climax of the movie, the film shifts to be more a superhero film as the quintessential storyline of good versus evil is shown. “Split” walks the line between horror film and a movie about an evil superhero, but does it so very well. The movie seems less forced than Shymalan’s past movies and flows more naturally.
The acting is impeccable, especially from McAvoy, as his ability to play one role in many different ways gives the movie a unique feel. Shyamalan’s mistakes in the past have led movie critics to think of him as a subpar director. For example, “Signs” kept movie-goers intrigued with an alien invasion plot, just to find out that the intelligent alien’s kryptonite was water. Yes, water.
“The Knowing,” starring Nicholas Cage, becomes so convoluted that at the end of the movie you have no idea what you just watched. “Split” is able to learn from the director’s past mistakes and stays focused on one main plot point: the kidnapped girl. Other aspects, such as the Therapist and the other personalities, compliment the story quite well and keep the audience constantly intrigued.
“Split” focuses on some important questions that Shyamalan tries to answer throughout the film. The therapist constantly says that she believes people who have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) are more complex than regular human beings. Should we look at them as people with a disease, or people with a gift? Also who are the real victims in this movie? The girls are kidnapped, but you gain to grow some sympathy for Kevin Wendell Crumb, the man with the disorder, as his abuse as a child has forced him into this chaotic mindset.
“Split” will make you reevaluate any preconceived notions you have on Multiple Personality disorder, and any notions on M. Night Shyamalan as a director, as the film is hopefully a beacon of hope for more great Shyamalan movies.