Has M. Night Shayamalan Returned to Form?
I have to be completely honest with you, I was really hesitant to go see this movie. Not because it looked like it had elements of horror in it from the trailer and I’m a bit reserved when it comes to horror and/or thriller films. But because the last time I trusted M. Night Shyamalan to direct a movie, it was something I hold near and dear to my heart. The Last Airbender was one of the worse movies I had ever seen and this is really disheartening considered the animation from Nickelodeon was praised as one of greatest cartoons of our generation. (And is in my opinion.)
So you have to forgive me if I went into this movie lower than usual expectations. Unfortunately for me, I was not into movies enough back when I was younger to watch his films that made him rumored at one point to surpass and take the mantle from Steven Spielberg. I don’t know the legacy of the director who helms the projects of The Village, The Town, and Signs. When I came around to appreciating films his career was already on the decline.
However… I can say all those people who may be on the fence about Split has absolutely nothing to worry about.
Split is very straight forward when it comes to the premise and if you watched any of the trailers, you know exactly what you are getting. James McAvoy plays Kevin and the other personalities who inhabit his body who are trying to awaken what is known as the beast, a personality who is said to be supernatural and will dominate over all the orders. To this, Kevin kidnaps three girls (one of which is Casey played by Anya Taylor Joy) who they think is the key to summoning him while keeping his psychiatrist (Betty Buckley) in the dark of his twisted plan.
Allow me to start off by giving a standing ovation to James McAvoy. This by no means down plays the other stars of the film because they all gave great performances but it was truly a sight of terror and pure delight to see him on screen playing the different personalities. The way he was able to easily switch between personalities and give each one their own characteristics was astonishing. Each of the personalities comes with their own mannerisms and niches that authenticate their existence in this single body. Although my favorite personality is Patricia, they all are memorable and charming in their own right. James is the star of this film and he elevated this movie far beyond my expectations. I’m truly thinking had this movie came out a bit earlier, he would have gotten nominated.
And it is really the characters that drive the narrative and creates the tensions that lead into the final act. This and the fact that M. Night is a genius with a camera. The cinematography hints to how brilliant this man is. The way he creates the eerie and unsettling atmosphere and uses the each scene with their unique angles to create a flow to the movie that is never jarring and easy to follow along keeps right on the edge of your seat, especially during the final act.
Which unfortunately may be the only thing that will leave audiences desiring a bit more IF one does not understand the film and what it attempts to do. (Something I would love to talk about more in depth once you have seen the movie) Leaving the theater with my crowd, I could hear some of them question the ending and even I had to do a bit of digging to fully grasp everything that happened. But despite this, my audience dialed in. We laughed together, some of us yelled and left gossiping about what we saw. I can promise you that Split will be the best film of January and it’s one that I probably would have gambled on in another part of the year.
If I was into the score thing (which I haven’t really decided on but I figured I would do for the time being), Split would be a solid 8 in my book. It is a movie that I’m going to see a couple of times in theaters.
[As always, I ask that you leave a comment to express what you thought of the review. It really helps me understand how to tailor my reviews and get an understanding of what people want from my reviews. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!]