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[Movie Review] Split (2016)

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Plot Summary: After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Writer: M. Night Shyamalan

Runtime: 1hr 57min

Main Cast:
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey
  • James McAvoy as Kevin
  • Haley Lu Richardson as Claire
  • Kim Director as Hannah
  • Jessica Sula as Marcia

Review: by Mia

Split focuses on the lives of two people: Casey and Kevin (the name of the character’s original personality). Casey is a stand-offish teen seen by her peers as a troublemaker. When the film starts, she is at a classmate’s birthday event attempting to socialize. She is offered a ride home by the father of the birthday girl and, when they all pile into the car, they find themselves in a car with a strange man instead of the father. A long drugged sleep later and the three girls are locked away in a secluded area, struggling to set aside their panic and plan an escape. Dennis, the kidnapper and dark personality of Kevin, is their intimidating caretaker. Over the course of their captivity, the girls meet several of Kevin’s personalities: Dennis, Patricia (the ring leader of the plot), Hedwig (a 9-year old with the power to bring himself to the surface whenever he wants), and last but not least: The Beast. These 3 personalities are of the belief that The Beast is the savior of their existence and that feeding The Beast is their path to invincibility. Bad news for the three kidnapped girls, since the The Beast wants the impure flesh of young girls; and “impure” means those who do not understand suffering.

Casey was not a part of the original plan. Dennis stalked the other two girls and decided they would be the sacrifice to The Beast, a personality that none of the other individuals sharing Kevin’s body could confirm even really existed. The Beast was described as entirely inhuman, with super strength and the ability to scale walls and resist damage a normal human would not survive. As the movie progresses and we are shown the psychology of the 23 personalities being able to share a body, the tension and anticipation of The Beast’s existence becomes overwhelming. Your thought eventually is: “If these personalities can all manifest different physical attributes such as one personality having diabetes and the other not, or one being able to lift weights and the other night, whose to say that The Beast can’t manifest?” Its an eery feeling. And no one is more terrified than Casey, our wounded main character doing her best to survive the planned sacrifice.

What I Liked:

This movie went beyond my expectations of being compelling. It left you on the edge of your seat at every scene. James McAvoy proved his versatility, switching between different accents, mannerisms, and auras as each character required. One moment, he could be the terrifying and precise Dennis and the next he could switch into the mind of a child, innocent to the darkness of the events occurring around it. Each development in the plot leaves you terrified for all characters, including Kevin. You watch as the other individuals within Kevin’s mind. Characters actually analyze and react to the threats around them in a realistic way. This leaves the audience tense and unsure whose plans will succeed. When the threat of The Beast finally appears, the thrill of survival is felt firsthand by the audience.

Surprisingly, M. Night Shyamalan chose to leave out the mindblowing plot twists he is well known for. This is not to say that the movie does not end with a surprise worth waiting for. My favorite plot moment is actually in the last few moments of the film, where M. Night Shyamalan teases that more might come from this film and The Beast and another well-received character from his previous films.

What I Didn’t Like:

There are moments in this film where I am left frustrated by the choices of the characters that lead to the events of the plot. Instead of naturally explaining how characters end up in situations, the situation feels forced. A character such as Casey, who proves to be both resourceful and courageous, will suddenly short circuit and the events around her will continue to develop until she decides to return to the action. This feels unnatural, but not unusual in the thriller/horror genres. Sometimes, you just wonder why that character goes down the dark hallway or shouts out to the serial killer hiding behind the bathroom door. This move is not immune to this famed Judgement Lapse for characters.

Images Courtesy of IMDB

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