Delving into the twisted mind of M. Night Shyamalan can be a rocky journey for the audience. We never know what we’re in for. On one hand there are films like The Sixth Sense and then there’s something like The Happening. Like, really Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, what were you thinking?
In Split, three teenage girls are kidnapped by a ruthless stranger (James McAvoy) who imprisons them in his basement and tells them they will be sacrificed to a beast. At times he seems helpful, at other times hurtful, and the girls soon realise that he suffers from multiple personality disorder. They try to reason, bargain and bribe their way out of their labyrinth-like confines – never knowing which one of the 23 personalities they’re dealing with.
I underestimated Split. It’s one of those perplexing films: even after seeing it a week ago, I still have mixed feelings. While not convinced that this is one of Shyamalan’s greatest, I didn’t entirely dislike it. For the most part, I was entertained and I was intrigued. Despite the slow pacing and the film feeling slightly too long; my attention was held as my brain bounced from speculation to speculation as I tried to pick the ending. Because it’s Shyamalan, we know that there’s going to be a twist and we will constantly try to guess what it is before the credits roll.
To its credit, I didn’t get the twistiest twist, but that is largely due to the fact that I haven’t seen Unbreakable. I shall say no more…
McAvoy is spectacular as 23 different personalities; the standout being Hedwig the precocious child. He throws himself in head-first, devouring his palette of characters and ensuring he portrays each one in its entirety. He is definitely not going into this half-hearted, and that makes Split work.
Time will tell if there will be an Unbreakable and Split crossover; or maybe just a sequel, but if not, Shyamalan – as always – will keep his audiences guessing until the end.