In 1999, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan decided to creep out the entire planet with a little film called “The Sixth Sense.” Of course, I was a mere gal of 17 when the film came out, and I immediately knew I was watching something pretty spectacular. It was creative, original and definitely kept me riveted from beginning to the shocking end.
A year later, in 2000, “Unbreakable” hit the screen and of course I had to be a part of anything Bruce Willis would be involved in. I watched it but felt it was more oriented toward guys leaving me out of the loop a little but I still loved Willis no matter what.
Then the worst happened! The following films after “Unbreakable” seemed to become a tad gimmicky to my way of thinking. Even “Signs,” which I had hoped would knock it out of the park, just seemed to fall short of the originality and creativity of “The Sixth Sense.” After that, any Shyamalan film coming my way just bounced off my “have to watch” radar.
Now, in 2016, Shyamalan is back in theaters, and I am here to say that “Split” gave me the creative storyline and originality I associated with him back in 1999.
The film star James McAvoy (be still my heart!) as a man who has several serious problems named Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, Barry, Orwell, Jade, The Beast and Kevin Wendell Crumb. One day he kidnaps Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and Claire (Anya Taylor-Joy) taking them to a dark and dismal location. He kidnaps the girls with a plan but Claire is an extra not planned on. It is clear this man has a problem with girls and when they stick together against him, their main goal is to escape.
Claire realizes that this man has the voice of a young boy name Hedwig and tries to be convincing about the need to escape. It also becomes clear that this man is responsible for different personalities who have different agendas. One by one each girl tries to escape and their different tactics keep their captor on edge. What they don’t know is that something sinister called The Beast is more terrifying than any of the personalities they have ever seen.
McAvoy portraying all of these different personalities gives him the opportunity to cement his status as an actor. The most interesting thing about him is that he takes roles that are as equally diverse as the personalities in “Split” (except perhaps not quite as frightening). I enjoyed the transition between the characters — from the sweet, helpful innocent to the creepy-man-next-door but what I loved most is the spots of creepy/mean characters, there are moments of compassion. Especially when he becomes Kevin because there is a moment where you feel for him and what he is going through. In the short time he is Kevin you feel his emotions down to the core and forget everything that came before it. No matter what he does he’s a sexy man — call me!
Taylor-Joy as Claire is the character most involved with the splits. She is secluded and misread even before she is kidnapped with the girls and is perfect for this role. It’s a good life lesson actually for teens that you never really know what is going on. Claire is actually very smart but has been through a lot and does a great job of hiding it. Taylor-Joy gives the “weird kid” persona something to think about but in a calm, collective, peaceful and beautiful kind of way. You will see exactly what I mean from scene one!
Richardson as Casey was the reason Claire was in the car in the first place so we blame her for everything…period. Sula as Marcia is the follower and she had no guts so there isn’t about to be no glory. Even when Claire tells her to stop putting them all in danger, Marcia just does what Marcia does.
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher gets a personal shout out from me. She kept all the characters in line and respectfully sought out to help each one individually. I believe her character is one that sticks out because her presence made me feel like I was in the film not just watching it. Buckley captures different aspects of film, because it made me root for her who rooted for Kevin and the other personalities. She had a huge role in a way in how the character. behaves because she calls him out when he tries to put something over on everyone. I just plain out enjoyed her performance.
I really did think the film was creepy, original, suspenseful and I most definitely would watch it again. It isn’t a bloody horror film, but a suspenseful and smart telling of a man with a serious problem. The cinematography lent itself to the creepiness as well. The different ideas and characters always kept me aware but still creeped out wondering what is going to happen next and who is going to show up at the door — and when you are going to meet The Beast.
I’m making sure to leave tons of information out of this review because this is the film you want to experience for yourself and personally I hate when people give too much away — it’s more fun to discover the creepy within us all right? “Split” will definitely give the audience just that and don’t be in such a hurry to leave your seat because nothing is ever quite finished the way you might expect.
In the end — Kevin has 23 personalities and the 24th is about to be unleashed!