Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Producer: M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock
Executive Producer: Steven Schneider, Ashwin Rajan, Kevin Frakes
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula
Director and writer M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), The Visit (2015)) is back with his unique, sometimes tongue-in-cheek style of horror thriller, this time featuring Kevin (James McAvoy): a man suffering (or is he suffering?) from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder).
After the kidnapping of three young girls, the audience is given a taste of the 23 different personalities inhabiting Kevin’s body.
Shyamalan together with clever camera angles (from cinematographer Mike Gioulakis) use the change in personality to amp up the horror the kidnapped girls experience when they realise their captor is using completely different voices to have a conversation, with himself.
It’s Kevin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Feltcher (Betty Buckley) who speculates whether DID caused through trauma is a weakness or a strength. And whether the Split is a way of tapping into the plasticity of the brain, creating pathways into parts unknown.
An interesting premise and the main thrust of the film.
Shyamalan really takes the idea of tapping into the power of the mind as far as he can. The result being a thought-provoking horror with a bit of dark humour thrown in the mix.
Thankfully, the few snorts of laughter I had were meant to be provoked, but jeez, there’s a real push of that suspension of belief, the suspension achieved through the believable and truly phenomenal performance of James McAvoy as all those differing personalities.
McAvoy’s great at those parts that require equal measures of
nice guy versus evil. I kept thinking back to the character from the film: Trance (2013), another thriller that delves into the mind.
And Anya Taylor-Joy was well-cast as the, well, out-cast, Casey Cook. Anya looks different here, compared to her unforgettable performance in, The Witch (2015), but you can’t miss those sanpaku eyes…
I think people will either swallow the story and enjoy the film, or they won’t. There’s certainly a unique flavour here.
I liked the exploration into the realm of neuroscience, the idea that thought and belief can change the organic. To make imagination into reality. And I enjoyed the interaction between the personalities of Kevin and Dr. Karen Feltcher, the sessions giving much needed authenticity through the grounding dialogue.
However, I found myself wanting to get sucked in then jolted out of the film with that weird sense of humour that’s all Shyamalan.
SPLIT is something different to watch, that reaches for those edges. And if you don’t mind a bit of weird you’ll be rewarded with a unique story well executed.