Split (IX) (2016)
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It's a horror film without special effects gore, an action flick without any car chases. A high-tension psychological thriller for viewers with active imaginations, who don't need to be spoon-fed every explanation.
The acting is top-notch, the script sympathetic, the cinematography and set fantastic, and the music/sound subtle enough not to be noticed, consciously, while building the tension inexorably. It's gripping, un-turn-away-able.
Seriously impressive. I don't give 10's lightly.
Split is about three girls get kidnapped by a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID) that has 23 personalities. I have to say that this movie does not represent what DID really is and how people who struggle with it are, mainly because this movie gets a bit too fantastical sometimes. It doesn't try to be strictly realistic though, so it's an awesome thriller anyway.
The movie gives you chills since the very start with an awesome acting by James McAvoy and some seriously good still scenes. The overall scenes make you have a weird feeling, something it succeeds to transfer to the viewer that you probably won't be able to describe. That makes this thriller stand out in a good way.
Maybe Split makes a unrealistic representation of dissociative identity disorder, and that can be a big turnoff, but this is a great movie nonetheless.
After a birthday party, three girls, led by Casey, are kidnapped by the troubled Kevin, who has a very rare case of 23 split personalities inside him. What follows is how the three girls try to escape from Kevin who himself is lowly having a mental breakdown. Sorry, I can't tell a lot about this movie as a small factor would spoil it.
This movie couldn't have worked without James McAvoy. He has given his best performance in his whole career and stands out as one of the reasons to watch this movie. The cliché points in the movie are watchable just because of his phenomenal performance. His transition from a 'Norman Bates' type woman Patrica to a 9 year old boy Hedwig to other personalities are amazing
Last but not the least, is the traditional "Shyamalan Twist". Trust me, this time your minds will be blown when you come to the conclusion. This twist doesn't match up to the "The Sixth Sense" one but it's a thrilling one. It's not some stupid twist like in "Signs". I won't forget that moment when someone behind me shouted out "WHAAAAT?!".
"Split" isn't scary, it's tense. This movie shouldn't have been given a "horror" tag. A "psychological thriller" sounds better. Nevertheless, this movie is worth a watch. I'm giving a 8/10 with one extra star just for James McAvoy
Welcome back, M.Night Shyamalan
This is such a wonderful comeback. His ability to totally freak you out without being terrifying; to keep you fascinated, yet completely confused, it's all just so much fun! Not sure how his films can be so slow yet so gripping and FUN!
This one is bang on. The cinematography is wonderful, the story is intense and gripping. Not to mention that James Macavoy is bang on (what a great performance, love Joaquin Phoenix, but not sure he would have been quite so awesomely intense as Macavoy was).
I highly recommend this film to any thriller lovers and a must for any M.Night lovers (but I don't need to say that at this point now, do I). I agree it's not a horror film but it does very get under your skin. (If you found The Ring too much, don't watch this!)
However, if you loved The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, this is a must see!!
Can't wait to see Glass.
It's a lot of fun. James MacAvoy is great in a subgenre that is normally pretty insipid (ie dissociative identity disorder movies). He deliveres a great performance that really helps to carry this film, and Betty Buckley also gives a notably outstanding performance in her supporting role.
Is it as good as THE SIXTH SENSE? No. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely. I'd happily see it again.
As for those reviewers who are upset that movies like this distort the public perceptions about mental illness, I can only assume they are too close to that subject to be truly objective.
I won't reveal too much about the film as others will do that, except to say it was a great film to watch in the theater, full of suspense and in some ways quite touching and meaningful, even if you do or don't like the final twists you'll be drawn in to this story and on the edge of your seat in more of a suspense mode.
I wasn't sure if the film would go beyond a typical kidnapping film in the first five minutes but I can assure you its completely different to any expectations you'll have despite the director putting some of his more traditional touches on the film towards the end of it which really work in this case. I've always liked his earlier films as they often look at human conditions or flaws with imagination and some of his films have fallen short but he sounds like he's become more open minded and enjoying his work returning to form so well here and all I can say is well done, he has great attention to detail and gives his all.
This is a great film if you want an original suspense/thriller go and see it. I was sorry to see a review that put this film down, those reviews are off the mark this time round in my opinion I hope there is more to come from the M Night daring to be different again, his lower budget work is outstanding and easily brings out his best storytelling.
James McEvoy you've smashed it here and given you're all it was worth the risk, keep taking them! Having attended the Q&A he comes across a decent humble man which I would think gives his performances such resonance and skill. Also a great performance from Anya Taylor Joy she's a talent as well. Go see the see the film, especially in the threatre on a big screen it will have you on the edge of your seat.
Yet fans will concur that Split isn't just a comeback either, rather a tactical setup of Shyamalan's very own cinematic universe. Put literally, the film is about a person with multiple personalities where each personality speaks collectively in full awareness of the rest. Although main character Kevin is said to exhibit 23 personalities, we see just a handful during most of the film. There's Barry, a New York fashionista, Hedwig, a goofy 9-year-old, and darker personalities Patricia and Dennis. Calling themselves The Horde, the latter two have influenced the abduction of three high school girls as a ritualistic sacrifice for the 24th personality often referred to as "The Beast". The girls have limited time before The Beast is unleashed and although paralysed by fear, their escape depends on protagonist Casey's (Anya Taylor-Joy) proactive deconstruct of the good and evil personalities that reside in Kevin. To her advantage and through revelatory flashbacks, we learn that this wouldn't be the first time Casey would confront a monster.
If Edward Norton's dual personalities was chilling in his debut film Primal Fear, wait till you get a load of James McAvoy in what is simply an outstanding performance of versatility (or should I say two dozen performances in one film?). More than just a demanding role to pull off, McAvoy's broad range in this film has also elevated what could have been a familiar antagonist into a nerve wrecking supervillain. Which is why Shyamalan's so called signature twist ending is almost astounding. To be honest there isn't an actual twist in the story, but the ending is an unexpected but seamless integration into a sort of trilogy that will have most viewers gob smacked. It's an inside joke and almost as if Shyamalan is asking if we have you been watching closely, but also an extremely rewarding Easter egg for every true fan of the man. Welcome back Mr. Shyamalan!
The twist at the end is so disappointing that it is almost non-existent, those who have not watched the movie Unbreakable won't even understand the twist. At least this movie will keep you entertained and is not as atrociously paced as most of M. Night Shymalan's movies.
As the film opens three young girls are kidnapped with no clue who is behind it or where they've been taken. Rather than a simple hostage movie we're seeing something different. The girls find their kidnapper to be stern and unwilling to give into their pleas for help. But then they see him again. Except that it's not quite him.
This is when we learn that the kidnapper, Kevin (James McAvoy) is suffering from dissociative identity disorder or what most people would call multiple personalities. When he shows up to the rooms they're being held in wearing a dress and telling them his name is Patricia the girls have no idea what to think. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), the outsider of the trio, insists that they bide their time to figure a way out. The other two girls are more impulsive and act without thinking things through.
When they meet "Hedwig" Casey thinks she may have found someone who can help her. She spends time gaining his trust and learning more about what is going on. He tells her about "The Beast" and warns that he is coming. When she later asks the "others" about "The Beast" she is rebuffed but learns just a little more with each conversation.
Do the girls escape as the film moves forward? I'd rather not say and allow the story to surprise and unravel for each of you. But the movie does move on with more information gathered in various ways. One of those is the discussions between Kevin and his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). Fletcher has been treating Kevin for some time now and is becoming slightly alarmed via various signs that something has changed.
Fletcher doesn't just spend time with Kevin though. While he insist that he is in control she convinces him to allow some of the "others" to talk to her. At different visits the multiple people within Kevin's mind are allowed to talk to her and discuss things with her. Each of them provides her with a greater sense of dread that something is happening.
Back at the house where the girls are being kept, Casey continues to work her way into the good graces of Hedwig. As the bond between the two of them builds the slightest glimpse of hope appears that perhaps the girls will make it out after all. With no demands made to their parents just why they were kidnapped to begin with comes into question. And when the answer presents itself the level of tension and fear reaches fever pitch. Is there really a "Beast" or is that just something in the mind of Kevin.
For me Shyamalan has been a hit and miss director. While I've never hated any of his films there have been a few that I felt had fallen a little short of the potential he showed in others. With SPLIT he returns to my good graces with a movie that draws you in, takes it's time to unfold and tells a story unlike any other. In a world of remakes that earns points with me. He definitely gives us something new here.
The acting is amazing to watch here. While the entire cast does a fantastic job it is McAvoy who takes center stage and steals the show. It's one thing for an actor to portray a character in a movie. But to create several and have them all well thought out and well done characters? That's something worth paying attention to. The only problem would be trying to figure out which character would be the one receiving an Oscar nomination if it came to that.
I noted remakes but what about sequels you might ask. SPOILER ALERT. This film is indeed a sequel but not so much that you would recognize it as such. We've never been exposed to these characters, never seen this world as far as we know and have no inkling that it ties into anything else. That is until the film is just about to hit the credits. At that time we see people talking in a diner and the camera pans down to reveal Bruce Willis sitting there listening to a conversation where someone is trying to recall the name of a terrorist who was in a wheelchair. He tells them the name was Mr. Glass. The name and his presence is a reference to Shyamalan's film UNBREAKABLE. And yes, this film ties into that. As will his next film, one he announced will complete a trilogy bringing all three films together. As a fan of that film I can't wait.
Until then I'll be content to watch this movie. And probably more than once. It's one of those films that once you know the end you want to watch again to see what else you can pick up as the story unwinds. That makes it a movie worth not just watching but adding to the collection.
James McAvoy plays Kevin, a man with a genetic disease which allows him to have multiple personalities. His trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), knows 23 of them, but there's one hidden from everyone who desires to dominate over all the others. Compelled by one of his personalities, Kevin abducts three girls, where Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) becomes their leader to try and escape the "crazy" man.
Is this the return to form by M. Night Shyamalan, who has been struggling for more than a decade to release a major success? Is Split the movie that brings him back to the spotlight?
Once again, Shyamalan's storytelling is very original, unconventional and ultimately mind-blowing. Instead of establishing everything the audience needs to know about the characters right at the beginning, he gradually develops them, giving them haunting backstories and spreading parts of it throughout the runtime. That said, this film isn't for everyone. The audience needs to trust Shyamalan and be patient. Really patient. Don't start taking notes about something that you think it's negative because once you reach the third act, everything changes and suddenly it all makes sense. The screenplay is not as twisty as Unbreakable, for example, but it demands absolute attention in order to catch up on all the things that matter (and the ones that don't, as well).
The production and editing team have to be congratulated due to their seamless work. From the camera work to the extended one-take sequences, as well as the environment surrounding the characters, everything feels real and looks amazing. The soundtrack ... Let me just say that this element is so, but so much relevant to the conclusion of this movie. I can't really say anything else without spoiling the ending, so I'll leave a note after my rating at the end of the review with a MAJOR SPOILER.
As for the cast, I'll start with the man that I honestly think should have received an Oscar nomination: James McAvoy. You know, there's a big difference in portraying a non-fiction character instead of a fiction one: concerning the former, you can't really escape the true nature of the person you are playing, but with the latter, as an actor/actress, you have to deliver yourself 100% to the role for it to be believable ... And God, does McAvoy deliver! He gives 200% in what could be his best performance to date. Do you think Andy Serkis had problems portraying both Gollum and Sméagol at the same time? Well, imagine 7 ... or 8 characters. I lost the count. All in all, James McAvoy, sir, congratulations! You are superb!
Anya Taylor-Joy is also incredible as Casey! Her character has the most intriguing story of the three girls, and she's the one who assumes the leadership of the group once the kidnap occurs. Her initially unknown past helps her through the traumatic situation, but it's really her rather captivating backstory that grabbed my attention. It's fundamental to the understanding of the ending and Anya does a terrific job. I also want to give a small praise to Betty Buckley for a beautiful and necessary interpretation of Dr. Fletcher, a character that offers the audience some knowledge of Kevin's disease.
As for the other two kidnapped girls, well ... They're my main issue with the film since they don't have a good reason to be there. Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) aren't the main characters, and they don't have that much screen time, but their dialogue still feels extremely forced and filled with a lot of nonsense. The ending of the story might not be as twisty as in other Shyamalan's installments, but I hope that people don't give up to false expectations. The classic Shyamalan's twisty ending isn't a necessary attribute of his movies, but the truth is that the twist is not the one you think it is. Once again, the note at the end of my review will clarify this.
In the end, Split is Shyamalan's return to his old early 2000's self. Brilliantly unconventional storytelling, a lot of suspense, some very captivating subplots and a fantastic editing and production team behind him. The soundtrack plays a huge role in this film, as well as James McAvoy, who delivers his career-best performance. Anya Taylor-Joy is also pretty extraordinary, something that can't be said about her fellow friends who portrayed two bland characters. The ending brings the classic twist that makes everything more understandable, and I gotta say ... I love this film, and it is one of 2017's best!
MAJOR SPOILER BELOW
As I said above, the soundtrack plays a huge role in the ending twist. That's because the soundtrack that plays right before the title of the movie appears on the screen, is the same one as in the third act of Unbreakable.
This is one of the many clues throughout the film that hint at the idea that Split belongs to Unbreakable's universe. Naturally, after the title shows up, there's a scene with David Dunn (Bruce Willis) that confirms this theory, but these are little details that make Shyamalan into a great director and screenwriter. Also, it's a pity that I've only watched these movies after Shyamalan stating that they were part of an eventual trilogy. Not that I was not surprised at the end of Split, but it did remove that first impact of pure shock in knowing that two films separated by 17 years (in real life) are part of the same universe.
Both movies end up falling into the "superhero" genre. Unbreakable is the story of our "hero" who spent his whole life sad because he wasn't doing "what he was supposed to do", and Split is an origin story of our "villain". If Glass delivers, this might be one of the best "superhero" trilogies ever.
He plays a man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three young girls as a part of a plot two of the personalities have hatched to unleash a powerful and unstoppable identity. Betty Buckley, in a better performance than the role necessarily needed, plays a therapist working with him and who begins to unravel the alarming plot. Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, who hasn't made a movie I've wanted to see since "Signs," crafts a nifty and effective thriller with three fourths of his film, and then sort of if not completely ruins it by taking his idea too far and pushing the supernatural elements to the point where we realize we're not even watching the same kind of movie we were at the beginning. This particular story, and especially McAvoy's performance, would have been compelling enough without Shyamalan's characteristic inability to understand when he's ruining his own premise.
I have to say that the movie totally got me by surprise. I was expecting something shallow and interesting, but instead, the story is much more complicated and deep, and could be seen again (which I plan to do with my husband). I think what touched me the most was the ending, when the Beast spoke to the girl in the prison cell, before he left her untouched.
That moment really touched me because of my own difficult past, and I can relate to both characters. At times, when you think you are too broken, you need a bit of comfort that you are not a complete castaway from society, because certain things happened in your past, which were not in your control.
I believe there will be people to relate to the characters just like I did, and will understand what I mean.
A really powerful movie, at least for me! I am glad I watched it!