In 1999, director and screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan surprised audiences and critics with his supernatural horror and thriller film, The Sixth Sense. Because of this film’s success and praise, Shyamalan quickly became a household name. However, critics and fans agree that after his third film, Signs (2002), the quality of his films have been slowly declining. However, Shyamalan did find recent moderate success with his 2015 horror film, The Visit. With his most recent release, Split (2017), I think it is safe to say that Shyamalan is making a much-needed comeback.
Split is a psychological thriller, starring James McAvoy as Kevin, a man who has dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder. There are twenty-three distinct personalities living inside Kevin and one of them has kidnapped three young girls for unknown reasons. The film follows the girls as they desperately try to escape their undisclosed prison as well as Kevin, who goes to see his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) as they discuss the emergence of the twenty-fourth personality.
James McAvoy does an excellent job portraying all the different personalities inside Kevin. It is a brave and daring role, but it isn’t hard to tell that McAvoy brought his A-game to this role. His performance is Oscar-worthy, but McAvoy isn’t the only great actor in this film. Anya Taylor-Joy also does a superb job as the main female lead. She has to do a lot of subtle acting throughout the film, which is not easy for some actors, but Joy pulls it off with ease.
Personally, my favorite part of Split, besides McAvoy’s performance, is how good the story and the storytelling is. Throughout the film, the audience slowly starts learning more about the main characters. For example, Joy’s character is first perceived as a shut-in teenage girl, but as the movie progresses, we learn more about her and we find out that she is a character with many layers to her. Audiences should pay close attention during this film because if you miss the slightest detail, you could end up lost later in the film.
Split is by far one of Shyamalan’s best movies in a long time. He is finally making a comeback and I cannot wait to see more of his films.