REVIEW – “Split”: Is M. Night Shyamalan Creating His Own Cinematic Universe? (SPOILERS)
Call it a comeback! One of our generation’s most unique storytellers has once again found his voice. Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan returns to twisted psychological horror with the multiple-personality, abduction thriller, Split.
While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.
Split follows Kevin (James McAvoy), who has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), but one personality remains submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
Split is a focused and unnerving return-to-form for Shyamalan. The director gets back on track with a well-shot, tense thriller that explores the supernatural powers of the mind. The film also features a brilliantly layered performance from McAvoy. As a man controlled by 23 different personalities, McAvoy is both mesmerizing and terrifying as he seamlessly shifts between multiple characters – expertly demonstrating the impressive power of his range. While Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey is the heroine of the film, it is McAvoy who steals the most scenes and commands the most attention. Unfortunately, not enough emotional attachment is built toward the other two abducted girls. The film is essentially Kevin’s story which also parallels nicely with Casey’s.
As for the infamous Shyamalan twist:
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!
A before credits tag at the end of Shyamalan’s latest psychological thriller implies that the events of the film starring James McAvoy exist in the same universe as his excellent super hero saga Unbreakable.
Way back in 2000, before there was a Marvel cinematic universe or Deadpool was a household name, Shyamalan crafted a grounded, dramatic take on the myth of superheroes and villains starring Bruce Willis as an unbreakable man and Samuel L. Jackson as his counterpart, Mr. Glass.
In the years since Unbreakable, fans have repeatedly asked Shyamalan about the possibility of a sequel. Now that the filmmaker is enjoying a successful run after partnering with horror mega-producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions for The Visit and Split, he finally seems ready to roll up his sleeves and get into the franchise game by exploring the rich worlds he created in his glory days.
Is M. Night Shyamalan back? Yeah, I’m thinking he’s back!
Rated PG-13, Split is in theaters now. 3.5/5