“Split,” which opened on Jan. 20, is a movie about three girls who are kidnapped by a man with 23 personalities and their struggle to escape before his 24th personality makes its first appearance.
I went into this film not expecting much, as I am not a huge horror movie fanatic and have been consistently let down by the recent work of writer/director M. Night Shymalan. Something about the trailer for this movie intrigued me, though, and two of the actors involved, James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, have been in some really great movies recently. Based on this, I decided to go see it the weekend after it opened.
In short, I don’t regret taking a chance on this film; it was really well done and is probably one of the best movies I have seen in a while, even if there was a big aspect of it that I was apprehensive about when coming out of the theater.
Like I said earlier, I haven’t ever been a huge fan of typical horror movies, but I love thriller movies and drama, my favorite being “Gone Girl.” Even though they aren’t my favorite, I have a special place in my heart for the blood and gore of slasher movies like “Scream.”
“Split” combined my favorite aspects of the horror and thriller/drama genres, with intense scenes and well-written and directed dialogue, and even some gore now and then.
As I said earlier, James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy’s presence in the film is one of the biggest reasons why I decided to watch it, and they truly shined in their performances.
James McAvoy is best known for playing a young Professor X in some of the newer “X-Men” movies, but his acting talent shows more than ever through in his portrayal of the 24 different personalities that are within his character, who is most often called Barry. This role shows McAvoy’s range of ability, where he plays everywhere from a young boy named Hedwig to a cunning woman named Patricia.
Anya Taylor-Joy sprang into the spectrum of well-acclaimed movies with her role in “The Witch,” a horror movie that came out in 2015 and was praised by critics. She’s also well-known for her role in “Morgan,” a thriller/sci-fi flick from 2016 where she plays the title character, an artificially made human who doesn’t yet understand her emotions. Her acting in “Split” is truly outstanding, and she really pulls the audience in from the beginning.
Another aspect of this film that makes it so refreshing is the presence of humor. Although this is meant to be a serious and scary movie, there are parts where Shymalan added some funny lines in order to break up the tension, and it was done really well. I had no intention of going into this movie and laughing my way through scenes, but it was actually well done and added a lot to the movie.
Although I enjoyed this movie, I definitely have some hesitation toward a certain part of it.
The main idea behind the film is that McAvoy’s character has a mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), where the brain has dealt with trauma by creating different personalities within one person. I don’t like the idea of a person with a legitimate mental illness being construed as a villain, because it’s simply not true. I’m afraid that some audience members will walk away from this film with a really negative idea of people with mental illnesses and DID specifically.
Even though I feel this way, I still think that Shymalan did a good job with the film, and I hope that those who watch it realize it’s fiction and don’t view this film as a demonization of those with DID or other mental illnesses. There are many parts of the film that make it obvious that Barry is not a typical person with a mental illness and that perhaps there’s something more going on with his character, something supernatural.
Overall, this film was a win for the actors involved and for writer/director M. Night Shymalan. The acting was well done, the music and filmography were beautiful and the plot really pulled the audience in. The film was unique and brought a lot of fresh ideas to the idea of a typical scary movie.
If you’re a person who doesn’t necessarily love the kind of horror movie where you cover your eyes but still love to be kept on your toes, “Split” would be a perfect movie to watch with friends or even on a date.