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‘Split’ is a tense, surprising thriller

Split, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is about a man (James McAvoy) with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) who has twenty-three different personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula) in order to feed them to something called “The Beast.”

I have to say that going into this film, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not a big Shyamalan fan at all. Some of his films are god awful (The Last Airbender, Lady in the Water, and The Happening) while his other films have simply been spoiled for me and therefore don’t hold up on a first viewing because I know what will happen. I have to say though, knowing pretty much nothing about the film going in, I was pleasantly surprised by this film.

The reason that this film works so well is because of James McAvoy’s performance as Kevin (the DID man’s real name). He is able to play several different personalities so well and he is honestly terrifying in many parts of the film and just made me squirm in my seat because of his performance. Without someone like McAvoy, I really think that this film would’ve fallen flat on its face without his presence in the film.

Anya Taylor-Joy is also great in as one of the kidnapped girls as well. Her arc makes so much sense and she is able to play it so well. In the past couple of years, she has become a slight horror icon very quickly, but she is a great actress so I think that she is going to go far.

Shyamalan’s direction is also really solid and tense as well. Most of his camera angles and movements in order to build great tension and there are some great shots in here. He really proves that he is able to build tension in a way that most filmmakers try to emulate. While he has done this with past films, there was a time in his career that he lost his ability to really create tension, but because of this film, he proves that he hasn’t lost that ability to create tension, he just forgot how to use it for a while.

The film has some serious issues though. First of all, a lot of the dialogue in the beginning of the film is not how real people talk. The lines felt like a robot was trying to have a conversation with a real person and it just couldn’t create a normal phrase to use. Some of the performances are also incredibly bland and don’t add anything to the scenes that they’re in.

My biggest gripe with the film was the two storylines that had nothing really to do with the kidnapping storyline. This film could’ve been thirty minutes shorter if they had cut out these two storylines. One is with Kevin’s psychiatrist that really doesn’t do anything for the end product, really at all. The other is the abrupt flashbacks to Anya’s character’s past. These didn’t need to be in there because there are reveals in the end that told enough about her character and everything could’ve been implied instead of make a harsh cut to past and bringing the audience of the most interesting story and character of the film.

Overall, this film, while thirty minutes too long, is a really well-acted, tense, interesting film that proved that Shyamalan still has a lot of talent as well as providing a twist that really made the ending more meaningful by relaying it back to another film in his filmography and I want to see where the story goes from here.

About the author

Scott Brown

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