WARNING: this review contains spoilers.
I’m a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan, so it’s no surprise that I was instantly hooked the moment James McAvoy appeared on screen in the director’s latest psychological mind twist, Split.
The film sees McAvoy playing a man named Kevin, who has 23 different personalities. One of the more dangerous ones, Dennis, kidnaps three teenagers, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula), for a terrifying reason. The only person who seems to understand Kevin’s personalities is his therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who has quite a puzzle to solve after Kevin’s weaker personalities reach out for help.
Shyamalan has pulled off a terrific feat with Split, creating something unbelievably dark and twisted that’s easy to digest. The film moves along at a nice pace, giving us plenty of time with Kevin’s personalities, and the three captives.
Speaking of, I appreciated that these girls were not written as one dimensional victims. Richardson’s Claire was particularly proactive, though certainly didn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked. The one to really watch however is Taylor-Joy’s Casey, who makes the most effort to figure out Dennis and the many other personalities she and the the others are confronted with. Wide eyed and beautifully expressive, it’s easy to see why Taylor-Joy is one of Hollywood’s best finds in years, and I have to give kudos to Shyamalan for recognising this kind of talent.
It’s been written about a lot by now, though I can’t say this enough: McAvoy’s performance is worthy of an award. Slipping in and out of the different personalities can’t have been easy, but the actor does it with an ease and expertise that’s astonishing to watch. Dennis is awfully scary and methodical, while my personal favourite, Barry, is a lot of fun to spend time with.
Split is genuinely terrifying and a real treat for the movie connoisseur’s soul. I can only hope that Shyamalan continues to deliver films of this calibre.
Image: Paramount Pictures