After years of ridicule, M. Night Shyamalan returns to the filmmaking elite with his unforgettably powerful ‘Split.’ An intense must for serious film lovers.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke Trying To Survive in M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ – Courtesy of Universal Pictures
After reluctantly accepting a ride home after a birthday party, Casey, along with two female acquaintances, are kidnapped in broad daylight by Dennis. With little time to spare, the girls must fight if any wishes to see another birthday again. Only, Dennis isn’t the only personality living inside the kidnapper’s body. Soon, the girls begin to plea with the nicer personalities of the damaged man in hopes of escaping. But sometimes the brightest lights quickly turn into the darkest glum. And if the girls refuse to play each personalities’ game, being split will be the least of their problems. Welcome to Split.
Growing up, one director above all gave us the most promise for cinematic greatness. His name was M. Night Shyamalan, and other than a highly unique name, he gave us the The Sixth Sense. Brilliant is every way imaginable, The Sixth Sense is undoubtedly one of the best films of the ’90s. After Sense’s smash success, the early ’00s saw Shyamalan follow up with the superhero drama Unbreakable (2000) and sci-fi saga Signs (2002).
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Then the unthinkable happened. Suddenly, the formally great filmmaker is dishing up dismal experiences at the multiplexes. After Shyamalan began giving us filth, such as the hopelessly dull The Happening (2008), making fun of the once visionary director became common place. Only now, the joke is suddenly humorless as the filmmaker is back and he’s bringing a brilliantly deep masterpiece along with him.
So let’s all make sure we take our medicine, make an appointment with our psychiatrist, and keep our worse personalities under control as I review M. Night Shyamalan’s beautifully dark thriller, 2017’s Split.
M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ – Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Some say a feature film is a fine cinematic puzzle. If that’s true, Split’s performances are beautifully crafted pieces of puzzling art.
Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Split’s powerfully complex protagonist, Casey Cooke. Compellingly damaged, Casey is an amazingly grounded character who feels like the methodically distant girl you knew in high school. She’s tough, boldly heroic, but intriguingly paranoid in the most poignant ways. Taylor-Joy, who stunned in last year’s indie darling, The Witch, brings Casey to life in ways a review this short simply can’t do justice. In fact, no amount of text could honor what Taylor-Joy does here. The 20 year-old actress has amazing things ahead and I’ll be purchasing tickets every time to see this rising star shine.
Rejoice. The damaged are the most evolved – The darkest personality of Kevin Wendell
Then there’s Split’s multi-dimensional antagonist, Kevin Wendell. Bringing Wendell’s sympathetically damaged soul to life, British actor James McAvoy gives a career defining performance in M. Night’s latest thriller. Tasked with playing over five onscreen characters, all darkly living in the mind of Wendell, McAvoy paralyzes with his breathtakingly amazing talent. Not only does McAvoy give one of the best screen performances of the last 20 years, the underrated actor gifts us with one of the best in the history of the art form itself. Fear Feigns, this has to be seen to be believed — McAvoy’s performance will ignite passion in every viewer. (A+)