Earlier this week I had the pleasure to attend the first ever UK screening of Split, the latest film from Director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable). Known as the king of twists M. Night didn’t disappoint with this one, James McAvoy puts in without a doubt one of the most complex, compelling and all out extraordinary performances of his career.
The story revolves around Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) a young girl who is left without a ride home after a party. Upon being offered a ride home accompanied by two of her giggly school friends the girls are distracted as the man who climbs into the car isn’t the helpful dad who offered the lift, a spray of aerosol chloroform later and the three girls wake up in a locked room in some sort of boiler room basement prison.
The kidnapper (played by James McAvoy) suffers from dissociative identity disorder which means his body inhabits multiple personalities. We are introduced to such as Hedwig (a 9 year old boy), Patricia (An older woman) and Dennis (A sinister, OCD obsessed weirdo who loves watching women dance without clothes). These are just 3 characters that make themselves known amongst many others that come to light as they take turns to shine throughout this wonderfully tense, constructed story.
Just like the personalities of James’s characters the story is also split into various genre’s. We have the obvious tense thriller on offer here of the young girls trying to escape. We have the drama of Casey’s flashbacks as certain events are revealed as the story progresses and finally we have the light-hearted approach of certain characters such as Hedwig who brings a comedic relief to proceedings throughout. But there is one other genre this film takes on and that’s Horror. McAvoy’s multiple personalities all tell the tale of ‘the beast’, a character much stronger and more evil than the others, a hidden personality that will come to light and feast on the three captors. This personality makes an appearance towards the end of the movie and it’s insane to watch.
Split jumps between the captors and counselling sessions that McAvoy is undertaking to try and understand and control his emotions. The film heavily relies of McAvoy’s incredible range of personality portrayal and dresses each character up in their own costume to reflect their personalities and allows the audience to better understand who is actually on the screen before us.
As McAvoy speaks to Dr.Fletcher about his condition she continues on-going research that states that each personality within the body of a dissociative identity patient can change their own anatomy and body mechanics to suit their own persona’s. One personality could be allergic to a certain food where-as others may not, one personality may need certain medication whilst others may not, and this thought-provoking research comes to a climatic and devastating end as the film comes to it’s final act.
The ending of this movie is certainty an M. Night twist special that will blow your mind if you’re familiar with his previous work. The movie didn’t need nor does it rely on the twist ending but it’s defiantly one for fans of M Nights work.
Satisfying, compelling, chilling and haunting, Split is as much about Casey’s battling her own personal demons as it is about McAvoy’s.
It’s one hell of a movie that i’ll be picking up the second it hits the shelves.