1/23/2017

Split (Review)

Title: Split
Writer/ Director: M. Night Shymalan
Cast: James McAvoy, Betty Buckley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula
Year: 2016
Min: 117

Three pretty, young girls are kidnapped. They wake-up in a room where they held by a man with 23 very distinct personalities (James McAvoy). His psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) tries to unravel what is going on and find him and the girls, before it is too late. In the meantime, a 24th and truly terrifying personality is going to emerge from him known as The Beast!
Split is one of those movies that talking to much about its plot has the potential of ruining it. Hence, I'm keeping the synopsis short and sweet. You don't need to know anymore about it beyond what I just said. Nor should you, to fully enjoy the movie. So, let's jump right into the review.
M. Night Shymalan is a director who started out great, then somewhere along the way, he got lost and gave us some utter shit. It seemed that all hope was lost until 2015's surprisingly good found footage horror flick, The Visit. Split continues that return to solid film-making, by surpassing that film and becoming the director's finest film since The Sixth Sense (yes, I think it is even better than Unbreakable or Signs).
Shymalan is always at his best when he tells small, quiet horror stories. And, that is exactly what this is. He builds up tension quite well. There are some genuinely creepy and suspenseful moments, particularly at the film's exciting, white knuckle climax. It's a wee bit slow at times and maybe a teensy bit overlong. Also, at times it gets drowned in too many metaphysical ideas and exposition. But, the pay-off is great, not just in the climax, but in the cool twist ending. Yes, there is a twist, but I loved it and got a real kick out of it.
The cast is all quite good, from top to bottom. But, it's James McAvoy who really shines here. He is flawless at playng essentially multiple characters. At times, he can be downright scary as fuck. In fact, it's one of the finest antagonist performances in the genre, in recent memory. Also, worthy of praise is Anya Taylor-Joy (who I thought was one of the few things truly memorable aspects from the overrated The Witch). She's great in her role, as one of the kidnapped girls, Casey Cooke, a withdrawn one with a dark past of her own. Between those two movies and Morgan, this lovely and talented actress is making a name for herself within the genre.
Split is Shymalan's second best movie. It's an entertaining and, at times, suspenseful horror/ thriller that features a tense climax and a cool twist ending. It is further strengthened by good acting, in particular a star turn by McAvoy. While, it has flaws that keep it from reaching that next level of quality, it's still a movie I can wholeheartedly reccomened. Between, this and The Visit it's great to see Shymalan back to what he is best at. Let's just hope he stays on this path.
3 out of 4

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