Film Review: Split – 6/10

“You like to make fun of us, but we are more powerful than you think…’

I really try my best to be positive about every film I watch. Apart from The Mothman Prophecies. Or Die Hard 5. Or Vanishing on 7th Street. Ok, so maybe I don’t try my very best to be favourable but I would like to think I attempt to at least be fair. I should say that I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan generally. I consider The Sixth Sense to be one of the greatest horror films of my generation. I even enjoyed The Happening for chrissakes so I went into Split fully expecting to enjoy it. Let’s kick off with the positives…

Split is a nasty but effective story about a man with 23 split personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them in a labyrinthine underground maze. The scenes in his nefarious lair are interwoven with appointments with a psychiatrist to help to flesh out back story and provide a bit of exposition.

James McAvoy has a lot to aim at in any actor’s dream role as he portrays numerous characters in the same film. While he is certainly competent and the different personalities are easily identified, there is a nagging feeling that a more charismatic actor could have done more with the role. Anya Taylor-Joy should be recognisable to horror fans after her all conquering turn as Thomasin in The Witch, a far superior film that came out in 2015. The rest of the cast are forgettable but that is par for the course in the genre.

I consider Shyamalan to be the master of the lingering scare. He is a genius at, not only making you jump once, but also creeping up on you again later when sleep remains elusive. Split has few of these moments, and even The Visit, his last film before Split, is much more frightening than this.

************************************************ SPOILERS*******************************************************************

Of course, as we all know Shyamalan lives or dies based around the inevitable twist in the final act of all his movies. Bruce Willis being revealed as a ghost is still one of cinemas most shocking moments. The problems with forever using this technique are twofold. Firstly, it removes any element of re-watchability as the all the impact has been removed. Secondly, and perhaps most pertinently, the audience is always waiting for the twist to come, robbing it of any real shock value. Taking all that into account, I can safely say that Split has comfortably the worst ending of any M. Night Shyamalan movie. The final scene in which Bruce Willis himself reveals that the main character not only exists in the same universe as Mr Glass from Unbreakable but also that he shares the same condition as Samuel L. Jackson’s character in that film. What a fucking cop out. Who wants to see a film defined by a call back to a 17-year-old movie that was only ever mediocre in the first goddamn place.

It is incredibly self-indulgent to be believe that people will be shocked or thrilled by this ending. Most people will just be confused or mildly annoyed. I was both.