WHAT. A. RIDE.
I honestly believe M. Night Shyamalan has returned to form, and that stepping away from big Hollywood productions could be the best decision he’s ever made. Split is proof that the man has a true talent for smaller budget films. The film is about three girls that are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities and they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.
Now, let’s talk about the movie. One of the highlights of this film has to be James McAvoy, I’ve enjoyed most of the man’s performances and the most memorable for me was him as Charles Xavier/Professor X in The X-Men movies. But I think that this has become my favorite performance by him – ever. Just the slight change in his facial expressions, or the tone of his voice, and you’re left gripping the edge of your seat. You don’t see all 23 personalities, but you see a decent amount (that I believe is well fleshed out). Each personality is a character on its own, and you never really know what they have in store.Hedwig, in particular, turned out to be a favorite for the crowd at my screening. I would have loved to see all 24 personalities on screen (one of my few complaints honestly) but I am happy with what we got. Anya Taylor-Joy is so incredible in this film, she plays a very emotional character with great depth and a troubled past. She has great chemistry with McAvoy and I can’t wait to see them work together again in the X-Men movie. The rest of the cast does a great job as well.
Mike Gioulakis’s shots are gorgeous. The scenes have an It Follows vibe to it. The score is incredible. This is Shyamalan’s first parting from his go-to collaborator, James Newton Howard. While a shame, West Dylan Thordson more than makes up for Newton Howard’s absence, providing an atmospheric and surprisingly empathetic score in certain scenes. It got better and better as the tension increased.
Although this is a fairly well-made film, I did have a few errors with pacing, the flashback scenes felt very shoehorned in and confusing at first. Shyamalan’s camera-work and writing also seemed to be a bit messy at times, mainly during the first act of the movie but was fine for the majority of the movie. The climax is really underwhelming. It works thematically/symbolically, but the payoff falls short. Certain scenes contained a little too much explanations for me. Too much context.
Overall, Split is a great film if you want an original suspense/thriller. Also, the traditional “Shyamalan Twist” is actually shocking. 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”. While it’s far from perfect, Split is a rare January film that had me on the edge of my seat. 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.
SUPERSAM RATING: 9/10.