Produced (along with 6 others), directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, Split is a tale of three girls who are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities. The girls need to escape before the impending emergence of a frightening, new 24th personality.
I must say, there is a certain maturity to this movie. The psychology behind the story is interesting, seems to be well researched, and is very well utilized here. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) f/k/a Split Personality Disorder combined with horror is nothing new (Jekyll & Hyde, Psycho, Dressed to Kill, Primal Fear), but here Shyamalan multiplies it (not two or three personalities, but 23), fuses the psychology with a horrific situation and adds a few thrills.
A character with 23 personalities gives James McAvoy (who displays 8 of them) a great opportunity to really show how adept he is at his craft. He does an outstanding job going in and out, weaving together a seamless performance among these multiple personalities who each serve as their own character because they are so diverse. Whatever may be deficient about this film, it is not him. His performance alone makes this movie worth seeing. Anya Taylor-Joy, (as Casey) again plays a socially disconnected character as she did in Morgan, and she does this well. Casey’s backstory is as interesting as the psychological thriller portion of the movie. It’s always a pleasure seeing Betty Buckley working. She did a great job.
Now let’s talk about what’s not to like, and there was quite a bit, I must say. Most of the problems involved the writing. Some portions of the story were quite predictable. One of the hostages was an airhead who got my nerves. Characters’ actions defied common sense at times – typical “horror” genre stuff. The movie pulls you in from the beginning but doesn’t hold you because at times the characters did the most frustrating things that had me throwing up my hands, talking to myself (there was a lot of that going on in the theater), holding my head in my hands, shaking my head, laughing at how stupid this scene or that scene was… etc. The script could have used more editing and the length of this movie should most certainly have been shortened by a good 15 minutes. There were times I wondered if I would get through it, if I should walk out. You know me… shifting in my seat and checking the time are a bad sign, and there was plenty of that going on. But then I’d get back into it for a few minutes, and be back to groaning shortly thereafter. It’s an interesting but very frustrating movie. Getting to know the multiple identities was actually fun, which is not necessarily a good thing for a movie billed as a horror/thriller. The movie is more tense than scary.
Split earned 7 out of 10 bloops. Although it should have been 6 out of 10 because it could have been much better, McAvoy’s performance is really strong and worth seeing. This one is tricky because I really can’t recommend anyone run to the theater and pay to see this movie, but I would certainly advise you to catch it streaming.
1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
Up Next! Sleepless, the action thriller starring Dermot Mulrony and Jamie Foxx. Thank you so much for reading!