Split centres around James McAvoy, a man with 23 distinct split-personalities, with a 24th about to emerge.
Early on, he kidnaps three college girls – Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), taking them back to his overly humble abode for reasons unspecified. Amongst his personalities are the headstrong Dennis – who we first see, nine-year-old boy Hedwig, and Barry – a camp fashion designer who comes out (pun not intended) for his sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley).
I’m not hugely up to speed with M Night Shyamalan movies, the director of which also gives himself a cameo as Jai, the security guard; in fact, I’ve only seen The Sixth Sense (for which the twist was spoiled for me before I watched it), Unbreakable (which I didn’t think a lot of) and The Last Airbender (purely for the laughable ‘bender’ dialogue). However, McAvoy rarely disappoints and he continues his strength in this film.
Amongst flashbacks to Casey as a child, out hunting with her father and uncle, you’re left wondering can they distract him in order to try and escape? Will he fight back? But then again, when the times come that they attempt it, you know they won’t manage it if it’s at the point that two hours haven’t yet elapsed, but I can’t complain about that – it’d be a short film if they did!
Split has some great direction*, neatly revealing the plot bit by bit as it goes on, and you’re left wondering what you’d do in that situation. There’s some great tension moments, even if it does get quite silly at times – although you expect a bit of that in films like this, and even when it does get that way, it’s still entertaining.
(*people running up to something, which to us is the camera, but ending with just half their face at the edge of the screen… a bit geeky, I know)
And at the end of the film…
Another thing that I enjoyed, that to some might also seem a bit geeky, is the end credits. Don’t worry – no spoilers in the credits, but like how McAvoy’s character has 24 personalities, the screen is divided into 24 equal segments. The main credits scroll up the middle of the screen, whilst being duplicated across all of these. That was a neat touch.
There was a twist at one point which I won’t divulge here (once you see it, you will know), but I had to look it up online afterwards. Once you’ve seen the film, check out this Screenrant link for more info, but NOT BEFORE THEN! (and the same goes for the spoiler segment in the cast list below)
Book tickets for Split at Vue Cinemas.
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures Int (UK)
Cinema: Vue, Lowry, Salford Quays
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Released: January 20th 2017
Director: M Night Shyamalan
Producers: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum and M Night Shyamalan
Screenplay: M Night Shyamalan
Music: West Dylan Thordson
Dennis/Hedwig/Barry: James McAvoy
Casey Cooke: Anya Taylor-Joy
Marcia: Jessica Sula
Claire Benoit: Haley Lu Richardson
Dr. Karen Fletcher: Betty Buckley
Five-Year-Old Casey: Izzie Leigh Coffey
John (Casey’s uncle): Brad William Henke
Casey’s Father: Sebastian Arcelus
Jai, Hooters Lover: M Night Shyamalan
Casey’s Mother: Kelly Werkheiser (uncredited)
and one more…