Holy crap…Holy Crap!
Those were my thoughts while I was immersed in the physiological horror that is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, Split. The plot revolves around Kevin, played by James McAvoy, who suffers from dissociative identity disorder and has 23 personalities.
While Kevin is being treated by his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, one of his personalities becomes dominant over the others and has a compulsion to abduct three teenage girls.
Anya Taylor-Joy plays one of the captives who calls to her past traumatic experiences to keep things together for the trio as they desperately try to escape. Taylor-Joy was good here, which was surprising because she starred in last year’s critically acclaimed horror film, The Witch. I hated that movie and everything about it.
The mind can be a tricky thing, and it’s believed that some people can manifest distinct physical attributes for a specific personality, which is dismissed by the scientific community. This hangs over the movie like a dark cloud as it becomes increasingly apparent that Kevin’s condition comes with all of the ignored symptoms.
Watching this movie will make you appreciate the well thought out narrative, but it’s the performance by James McAvoy that puts Split over the top. Whether fashion designer Barry, serial captor Dennis, or a nine-year-old boy named Hedwig, McAvoy makes you believe that he is indeed a different person as he portrayed each of Kevin’s personalities.
His performance goes deeper and deeper down the physiological rabbit hole as the dominant personalities start imitating the others in an attempt to conceal Kevin’s rumored and horrific 24th personality.
M. Night’s direction enthralls the viewer from the get-go and keeps the tension building for the entire two-hour screening. Of course, what is a Shyamalan movie without the big twist? Well, this time, it’s more of a reveal that pays off exceptionally. Especially if you’re familiar with the director’s previous work.
I want to talk about it so bad! Trust me, you’ll be thankful I didn’t once you see the movie.
Split is an absolute mind-bender that takes a fictional concept and grounds it in enough reality to make it seem plausible. Horror, suspense, and tension are all executed flawlessly with great performances that serve the story immensely.
You also might leave the theater utterly convinced that James McAvoy is the best actor on the planet.
I know I did.
Split – By Universal Pictures. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan and Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor Joy, and Betty Buckley. Released on January 20, 2017. Domestic Box Office as of 2/27/16 is $130,843,355 per Box Office Mojo