Split: A Comeback For Shyamalan?

M. Night Shyamalan has had quite the bad rap. He started off strong with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and he was hailed as “the next Steven Spielberg.” However, he soon progressed into a bit of a downward spiral. His films just turned out terrible, and he was putting out bad film after bad film. Sometimes they had good ideas, but just had very poor execution. Other times they just had bad ideas to begin with. As such, Mr. Shyamalan has lost the trust of audiences in the last few years. But with his newest movie, Split, it appears that he may be making a comeback.

Split is the story of Kevin, a man with a severe case of dissociative identity disorder (23 different personalities in all), who kidnaps three young women and keeps them captive. Though on the outside Kevin appears mentally stable, with one personality, Barry, controlling which personality gets to be in control, three more dominant personalities are actually pulling the strings, as they begin to suppress the others and make way for a 24th. This 24th personality, known as “The Beast”, is different from the rest; it is superhuman, impervious to damage, and wants to be set loose on the world.

Kevin is played by James McAvoy, who carries most of the film with his seamless transitions between each personality. His performance can range from (purposely) comical to legitimately unsettling. The unpredictability of each persona keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Even when a seemingly harmless personality like Hedwig is on screen, there is always the possibility that another, more dangerous personality may take the wheel at any time.
Split is a very effective and well-made thriller, with great performances from its lead actors, and an interesting story. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, and ends with a twist that fans of one of Shyamalan’s previous works (no spoilers) will be pleased with and excited for. The final rating for Split is an 8 out of 10.