M. Night Shyamalan is back with his enthralling new thriller, Split. The director's latest tells the story of Kevin, a man with 23 different personalities who has kidnapped three teenage girls so that he may feed them to "The Beast", a 24th personality that is developing in Kevin's mind.
Shyamalan has seem some flack in the past decade and for good reason, he's delivered some truly terrible films to us in that time period. But in 2015 he gave us The Visit, which proved there is still some talent left in the director who crafted such greats as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Split is not only the director's best film since Signs, it's also one of his best films ever.
James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse) plays Kevin and delivers a truly dynamic, transformative and scary performance. We unfortunately don't get to see all 23 of Kevin's unique personalities but the ones we do see are layered, complex and captivating. This is easily one of McAvoy's greatest performances and really shows the range that he possesses. He can go from innocent to intimidating in a second.
Kevin keeps three girls, played by Anya Taylor Joy (Barry), Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen) and Jessica Sula (Skins), all locked away in a basement in an unknown location. He comes to them in the forms of Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig. These three personalities couldn't be more different from one another and each keep mentioning "The Beast", a brand new personality that is quickly developing in Kevin's complex mind. The three girls are to be kept until The Beast arrives as they are going to be given as "sacred food". Anya Taylor Joy once again proves that she's brilliantly talented, especially in genre films such as this.
Shyamalan wastes no time with Split, we're thrown into the plot almost immediately and start to learn about Kevin and the situation that he's put these girls in. By far the most intriguing aspect of Split is the exploration of Kevin's mind. We learn that his disorder is more than just different personalities, these are very different people fighting for the spotlight and that's causing a rift that will result in the formation of this impending 24th entity. Shyamalan really gets into the details of split personality disorder, how this isn't just one complicated guy, but 23 different people sharing one body and how each one of those personalities is slowly and surely changing Kevin's body chemistry into something monstrous.
The film plays out as an incredibly tense and exciting game of cat and mouse as these three girls try to escape their dangerous captor. Shyamalan once again proves why we loved him in the first place, his original ideas are so unique and strange and he's one of the most interesting storytellers we've had in the modern age of cinema. The way Shyamalan is able to balance horror, dark comedy and even deep sadness is truly impressive.
Whilst Shyamalan's script and excellent visuals really make Split worth a watch, it's the performances of Anya Taylor Joy and most notably James McAvoy that truly elevate this picture into something special.
Split is packed full of surprises and shocking reveals that I certainly will not spoil. What I will say is that, if you're familiar with Shyamalan's previous works, one reveal will leave you giddy and wholly satisfied.
M. Night Shyamalan is back on top form with one of his finest films ever. McAvoy puts in one hell of a performance and the complexities of his character are what make Split so watchable. This is a great "edge of your seat" thriller, definitely check it out!