I think it’s safe to say that everyone must have some voice in their head. Most would say it was their conscience, but what if it were another real person. If you didn’t know who they were and what was going in their head, you’d probably run and get the mental hospital down there a.s.a.p. But if you understood what multiple personality disorder was like, then you’d understand that the person with two people on the inside is telling the truth. Taking insanity out of the books, it needs to be understood that ones identity is already complex with tangents of owns thoughts. Now picture having another complex mind in your body.
While the idea has been done in other movies (The Three Faces of Eve, Fight Club, and Me, Myself and Irene), I cannot recall it at the extent that director M. Night Shyamalan is going for in today’s movie. I feel bad for the guy as he scored with two great movies (The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) yet has become a Hollywood laughing stock with the majority of his resume not being that hot. After making a better comeback film with The Visit, Split seems more like a spiritual redemption for the man’s career.
Teenager Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is quiet, introverted, and doesn’t seem to be enjoying a birthday party of a fellow student who was probably forced to invite her. As Casey and the other girls, Claire and Marsa, are sitting in the car waiting for their dad to drive them home, a stranger enters and knocks them out of conciseness. When they wake up, the women are now in a windowless room with a bathroom and a locked door. Entering in at first is the stranger, who calls himself Dennis (played by James McAvory) who tells them that they have been chosen.
Sometime later, the girls see a woman through the keyhole of their room and try to alert her. To their shock, this is the same man who is presenting himself as “Patrica” who assures them that “Dennis” is not allowed to touch them, but they are being saved for something great. More so later, Casey find the guy sitting at the door, now saying he’s a nine year old named Hedwig. It’s revealed that not only does this guy have twenty-three personalities but another called “The Beast” is coming and will do horrible things.
I need to stop here as the majority of the second half of Split is spoilers. What makes this really good is that not only is the multiple personalities fully fleshed out people, but that some are stronger and can even impersonate the others. I can only say that actor James McAvoy may have already given one of the best performances of 2017. Aside for being frightening, he carries the weight of several people and makes you both hate and sympathize with him. What your going to feel for in the end cannot be spoiled with.
What I can say is that on it’s own, Split is really good. Is it great? I don’t know is I can go that far. My problem is not with McAvoy nor the young women, but rather the subplot involving McAvoy’s therapist. It’s not that Betty Buckley is bad, but given how she’s trying to say that his personalities are a part of something bigger (again, cannot give away), it’s somewhat campy and even a little campy. And give in mind, her side story is supposed to be taken seriously. It does add up in the end, but I felt that could have been portrayed better. At least Split still makes for a thrilling ride through ones mind.
I’ll give this four pictures of windows out of five. I can see this not just doing well for a mainstream audience, but for previous fans of Shyamalan who have felt let down by the man’s previous work. Without spoiling, I’ll say that a lot of people are going to want something of a follow up. I really can’t say more, but they’ll want it. Trust me. See if this stories’ personality makes sense and give this redemption a chance.