Monday, June 12, 2017

Film Review: Split (2016)

Split (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...Split, despite its flaws, shows he's [Shyamalan] a master storyteller and a visionary filmmaker."

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 distinct personalities—a man who plans on using the girls to unleash a fearsome 24th personality known as 'The Beast.'

Off the bat, Split forces you to suspense disbelief. The film starts off with a kidnapping sequence which is both chilling and silly. That ridiculous line has been in my head since I first watched the trailer: "Pardon me, sir, I think you have the wrong car." Still, thanks to Shyamalan's direction, it's an effective scene in which our victims are introduced: Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire, and Marcia—high school girls. This group is easily kidnapped by Dennis (James McAvoy), who is really Kevin—and Kevin happens to have 23 personalities. Casey and her friends wake up in a dungeon built by Dennis. In simple terms, just to avoid spoilers, the rest of the film follows Kevin and the captives as he plans the arrival of his 24th personality known as 'The Beast,' which happens to have superhuman abilities. It does lose a little bit of steam towards the middle, but the pacing is mostly good. It leads to a surprising third act and a great ending.


Split is a great horror/thriller movie. (I have to add 'thriller' in there to fend off those who claim it's not a 'real' horror movie.) The film kept me hooked from beginning to end. The characters had depth, they had history, they had... character. Yes, it is over-the-top at times, the final act is obviously outlandish, but I think the characters were mostly well-crafted. There is plenty of suspense and dread, too. There's even a pinch of humor—and it got me to chuckle and smile a few times. The ending might be polarizing, but I liked it. The ending in The Visit was predictable, so I'm surprised he took this route. It's not a jaw-dropper, but It's certainly unique. My only complaints come from some of the pacing issues as well as some of the dialogue. "Pardon me, sir..." That whole scene is good and bad.

The acting was great. James McAvoy, who was fantastic in Filth, is phenomenal in Split. His unique, versatile performance steals the show. Anya Taylor-Joy, who starred in The Witch, is also great. She immerses herself in her character very well. The supporting cast was also strong. The film was shot well. As usual, I love the camerawork. The music was also good. The film was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. So far, I'm loving Shyamalan's return to horror. The Visit was a fun film and Split, despite its flaws, shows he's a master storyteller and a visionary filmmaker. I look forward to his upcoming projects.

Overall, Split is a great film. If you're looking for a twisted horror/thriller, this film is for you. It might be a bit too long for its own good and some of the dialogue is laughable, but I genuinely enjoyed it.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, some sexual references.

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