It’s been a crazy train of ups and downs for fans of M. Night Shyamalan. From his incredible debut with The Sixth Sense to the stupefyingly bad After Earth it’s been a hell of a ride. If you saw a new Shyamalan film was coming out and you weren’t excited you were right not to be. That all changed when The Visit hit our screens last year, it seemed like Shyamalan was back on track after a positive reaction to The Visit. Now with the release of Split, it’s time to see if The Visit was a fluke or the beginning of the return of Shyamalan.
This will be a spoiler free review as Split is a film which is best seen with as little information known about it as possible. All I’ll talk about are the performances, the level of skill Shyamalan brings to Split with his writing and direction and finally whether you should see it or not.
Split follows Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), she’s a troubled teen who one day is abducted with two other girls by a frightening individual played by James McAvoy, an individual who has multiple personalities and unfortunately for Casey one of them wants to kidnap her. From there we are treated to one of the most intense and supremely enjoyable films M. Night Shyamalan has made in a long time.
One of the key components of Shyamalan’s success in Split was the cast. James McAvoy brings an energy and dedication to the multiple characters he has to represent and the drastic change between each persona fascinating to watch. His interactions with the other characters, in particular, Taylor-Joy’s Casey, is astonishing. Taylor-Joy is an excellent foil to McAvoy perfectly balancing the inherent oddness of the film with her down to earth character. Not resting on his laurels Shyamalan directs the film with the skill and talent audiences will remember from his early better films. The cinematography is phenomenal, accompanied with a haunting score that permeates throughout the entire film never allowing the audience to feel completely safe.
If there were any issues with Split it would be the third act, at a certain point the film goes completely nuts and it loses the legitimacy it earned in the first two acts. Thankfully this doesn’t persist and Shyamalan reigns the film back in allowing for a suitably climatic ending.
Split is a lot of fun, I went in looking for something great and I got more than I bargained for. M. Night Shyamalan is back and in a big bad way.