review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years M. Night Shyamalan has had more downs than ups. I really enjoyed his last film The Visit for its insanely strange tale it delivered, but not everyone did. When I saw the trailer for Split I was instantly interested and with everything I saw was even more intrigued. The film features a great cast including James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, and Betty Buckley, but could it be a return to form for Shyamalan or will it be to many personas to keep under control?
Split follows three girls who are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. Any film that deals with any kind of multiple personalities is a tough one to pull off, but I am proud to say that Night has not only nailed it, but he has delivered his best film in years. The return to his roots telling his style of stories paid off big time with a film that is multilayered with character depth and intriguing story elements. There are some moments that are a bit slow at times, but I felt it was necessary for the overall story he was trying to tell and never fails to keep you engaged.
Everyone does a great job in the film, but this is McAvoy’s film all the way and he kills it. With every personality he brings more than just a new look with each of them, but a full transformation of performance fully convincing the audience of the different characters. The simple nuances he brought to each character added so much and they did a smart thing to never fully alter his appearance with each personality making it all the more creepy and in his hands for you to buy into it. Anya Taylor-Joy also offers up a more layered performance than I anticipated as opposed to just the usual victim. As the film unfolds you learn so much about both of these characters without it ever getting to cluttered and taking you away from the ongoing issue at hand.
M. Night has returned to what made his storytelling so great and showcased that he still has something left as a filmmaker. As this film came to a close I was impressed with the overall tone and direction of the film, but for the first time in a long time I was completely caught off guard with the twist ending that had me cheering like a giddy school girl. It took an already great movie and took it to a direction I never saw coming and made me love it all the more. If this film is any indication, M. Night is back with a vengeance and I cannot wait to see what else he has in store and can only hope that it keeps on this track.