Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) is victim of childhood abuse and is being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (split personality disorder) by Dr Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). One of his 23 personalities, Dennis, abducts 3 teenage girls, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and holds them captive in his house. Why does Kevin/Dennis do so? How will the girls escape? Can Dr. Fletcher cure Kevin?
Positive points: –
- James McAvoy’s extraordinary performance rockets the movie sky-high and gives it its brownie points.
- The horror element which is prevalent in its climax gives you goosebumps thanks to McAvoy’s performance and Shyamalan’s direction.
- The movie goes well into the depths of the little-understood split personality disorder unlike most other similar movies (ie where the characters had the same disorder) which focussed more on melodrama and entertainment factor.
Negative points: –
- The film is a psychological horror-thriller and on one side where the horror genre gets justice, the movie lacks ample thrilling elements which make it disengaging for most parts owing to its slow pace. However, the last 30 minutes will make this film worth your money.
- Although there are primarily only 5 characters in the movie, it doesn’t care to develop anyone as properly as that of McAvoy’s (although all have done good jobs in their respective characters).
Direction, Script and Other Technicalities: –
M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t had the best times recently and Split is his golden chance to make a much-needed comeback. He is back in form and his direction and insight to the story are commendable. McAvoy should thank him not just because he offered him the movie but also gave him the insight to all those multiple characters he played onscreen. His screenplay, co-written with Gary Whitta is good but just for McAvoy and Anya but not the rest. The movie on paper seems more like a crime-drama which rendered the excruciating experience but Shyamalan effectively gives the thrill and horror tinge in the climax (though he failed to induce thrill for most parts). Apart from fine scripting and praiseworthy direction, the film has good cinematographic moments too for which Mike Gioulakis deserves credit.
James McAvoy is the soul of the movie and for me, this is his best performance to date. The way he shifts from one character to another in a single montage is outstanding and he is the lone-warrior in this movie which wouldn’t have been what it is without him.
Anna Taylor-Joy does an excellent job in portraying Casey, who gets more space after Kevin and his various personalities. She has a really bright future ahead and might become a fine actress if she picks up good scripts.
Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula justify their roles very well though they don’t get much to portray onscreen.
Bruce Willis has a surprise cameo and you need to watch carefully to know why he is there.
Final Verdict: –
Split has its own problems. In spite of being a thriller, it fails to thrill you for long but when it nears the end, Shyamalan thrills and horrifies you pretty effectively through McAvoy. Watch it for its insight into the multiple personality disorder, ideation as well as McAvoy’s extraordinary performance which uplifts the movie from its standards and gives it an extra 0.5 stars.