Popcorn Picks Review: Split
February 11, 2017
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In his latest thriller attempt, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” focuses on Kevin, a man with a split personality disorder, who kidnaps three girls to sacrifice to “the Beast.” However, the real thrill of this movie is how good it is.
Shyamalan’s track record is a slippery slope as he had several strong horror movies in the 1990s, but then created a large number of critical failures throughout the 2000s. Breaking this trend, his 2015 film “The Visit” received favorable reviews.
The concept of a man with 23 different personalities inside of him sounds a bit questionable at first. Only certain actors can pull off playing multiple characters and be convincing, such as Tatiana Maslany in “Orphan Black.” James McAvoy, who plays Kevin, happens to pulls this off seamlessly.
The best part of his performance is watching the internal struggle as each personality attempts to take dominance. The personalities feel as though they could be different actors, rather than McAvoy playing all of them himself.
Unfortunately, points must be taken away because the film only features seven of the personalities. This is especially relevant, as all the advertising for the movie focused on McAvoy’s character having 23 personalities.
The strongest of the personalities featured was Hedwig, a seven-year-old boy. A 37-year-old pretending to be a seven-year-old isn’t going to convince anyone. What did convince people was how damaged he must be to create a personality where he is still a little boy.
Credit must be given to one of the younger actresses in the film, Anya Taylor-Joy. After a weak performance in 2016’s “Morgan,” she gets a chance to shine as Casey, a social outcast who herself has also dealt with abuse in her life.
It wasn’t hard for Taylor-Joy to impress audiences, as the acting of the other two girls kidnapped with Casey were weaker performances. Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula were boring. If their characters were not in the movie, it would have made no difference.
Shyamalan must be given credit for the script to “Split” as well. To keep as many characters in this film, yet still have a coherent plot, is tricky. The script did have some weak points, like the introduction of the personality of “The Beast,” or how the girls got kidnapped in the first place.
Besides minor issues, he does a great job of thrilling the audience, even adding in a reference to his film “Unbreakable” at the end.
Overall, the film is a reminder that even someone who became a joke in Hollywood can still do great things. Maybe get a few more actors next time.
Rating: Three and a half out of five Kernels
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