By Cynthia Ayala
“Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.”
Shyamalan does it again. Split is such an amazing film that takes the scientific basis of dissociative identity disorder and expands upon it in an extreme way. Enter James McAvoy with a breathtaking performance. McAvoy plays a variety of personas within this film, creating a different identity for each, well, identity. He’s amazing. Not once does he break character, but he creates and moves between the characters, between the personalities so effortless it’s scary. What makes it scary is how good he is at switching between the personas when he brings them to life.
The girls themselves also challenge and raise themselves to a new sort of awareness. They are not just damsels in distress but rather girls eager to fight for their own survival, albeit, in their own unique ways. There is power in that and an awareness of the age society is in. The film carries itself on the backs of what society recognizes and twists it in its own way to make for a thrilling ride.
With a limited scope, limited characters and limited scenery, the film utilizes its strength, from character development to plot development, in order to keep the viewer engaged. And it does this successfully. The film provides just enough back story to give insight to the characters without bogging down the film. There is a pain some of these characters have endured and it reflects in their characters, hardening them, bringing out the strength in who they are.
This is just a remarkable film that gives a new level of depth to horror and thriller. It has amazing writing and progression behind it that explores a new route of scientific theory coupled with a new idea of evolution. Not to mention the acting behind the film is simply remarkable and incredibly believable. (★★★★ | A)
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Distributed by Universal Pictures