I haven’t seen a horror movie at the cinema for quite some time, much to the fact my partner absolutely hates them. Although apparently, she wanted to see this one – but I did my selective listening technique and must not have taken notice that she wanted to see it. Oops. Good thing Split is a great movie, as it will give me the perfect excuse to go and see it again.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Split starts off innocuously, when a father, his daughters and daughters friends are about to travel home, only for the father to get attacked at the side of a road by the film’s lead protagonist James McAvoy. The three girls are then shortly maced in the car, in what is a tense closely shot sequence that sets up the tension to come.
So what makes Split unique by comparison to other psychological horrors? It’s the fact that the main foe in the movie has a multiple personality disorder. What makes the whole thing interesting is that a number of personalities have a balance between bad and good – so knowing who is going to open the door to where the girls have been locked, keeps the heightened a sense of paranoia.
The characters throughout Split played by McAvoy show an incredible sense of depth to them from complete mannerism changes through to interesting reveals of their personality spectrum within them. Some of the characters he portrays vary from a mischevious little boy (Hedwig) trying to prove himself to the rest of the personalities, a female or transvestite personality in Patricia, Dennis a deviant who w enjoy’s girls urinating on him, another character who has an insane OCD for cleanliness and a fashion designer to name just a few of the personas found in the film. McEvoy’s character knows that the dark personalities are starting to take over his life and regularly makes trips to the psychotherapist who see’s him for his disorder – it’s a battle for oneself whilst a battle for the survival of the girls that have been kidnapped strings along and almost feels secondary.
There is a poignant part of the film plot that I need to leave out, as it draws in a sci-fi element and arguably is one of the more important aspects of the film. This concept is great because it allows the kidnapped girls to strategize on a way to escape, by befriending the friendlier characters such as Hedwig who is the 9-year-old boy personality.
The film has a great sense of cinematography, a tiny amount of humour and an underlying sense of pondering as there are people out in the world that not only have to endure dissociative identity disorder, the experience of dealing with it personally and externally seems harrowing from both sides of the coin. Interestingly enough Shyamalan creates an interesting dichotomy in Split – one in which has you rooting for the victims of kidnap at the beginning of the movie – only to emphasise with the condition of the unstable murderer played by McAvoy. The title is a spiritual successor to Unbreakable and a third endeavour into the enclave isn’t totally out of the question according to Shyamalan, if we see more of this type of work from him, I will definitely be looking at checking it out.
Overall Split is a well-paced horror, that plays on the subconscious than smatterings of gore, it’s a clever movie that leaves you thinking well after the credits have finished. McEvoy’s performance is easily one of the best of his career and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win some accolades for this role.
- McEvoy is on Form!
- Great Concept
- Satisfying Sub-Story
- 23 personalities - not all used