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In the beginning of this year, M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) seems decided to regain his former status of knowledgeable director with the release of his new thriller, Split. ComiConverse contributor Elodie Cure has this review.
Three years ago, his name was dragged through the mud by the critics when After Earth, starring real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith, bombed at the box office. M Night Shyamalan too some time away from filmmaking and now, in 2017, he has struck back with a gem of a film that, while strong, will divide audiences.
Shyamalan invites us to spent ninety minutes in a sinister basement with Kevin and his three captive victims. Yet, Kevin suffers gravely from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and no less than twenty-three disparate personalities coexist in his body and mind. While some of them more prominent than others, we soon learn that each is conscious of the others and all of them fear a personality referred to as “Beast.” Some compare this part of Kevin to a simple fantasy and others as the ultimate state of human ignobility. In the world of the film, the “Beast” also symbolizes a possible facet of human evolution.
With this inventive premise, Shyamalan injects gravity to his project, questioning the capacity of the human brain. What are the limits to what humans can become? Does physical and mental pain unlock the path to a transcendent expansion of the spirit and heighten the senses? These big questions run throughout what ends up being an atypical feature film. Kevin says it himself: “We are what we believe we are.”
Following the image of its main character, Split is a cinematic monster that won’t leave you unscathed. Drawing its strengths from a solid storyline and constant suspense, Split is a striking example of rigor and genius. It is a masterpiece stuffed with mysteries and revelations that are as perpetually unstable as the personalities of its main character. Every action and line is calculated so that the film remains one step ahead of the audience.
The flawless acting of James McAvoy (X-Men) hold the movie together. Already impressive as a broken man beholden to his immoral addictions in the underrated Filth, the Scottish actor has a tremendous time in the role of a maniac. Anya Taylor-Joy, previously seen in The Witch, also does incredibly well as a young girl with a tumultuous past.
Eagerly awaited by the critics, Split is a master stroke for Shyamalan. Thanks to his audacious choices, he restores his image and reaffirms his mastery in the art of suspense. From the first scenes, Shyamalan guides us with assurance and sadistic pleasure into a psychological maze that leads to one of his trademark twist endings.
If you have seen the film Unbreakable, you will be surprised by the appearance of Bruce Willis or more exactly of David Dunn during the last seconds of the explosive finale. Later on, Shaymalan declared to Entertainment Weekly that the entire plot of Split was derived from a storyline that didn’t make it into Unbreakable. He also added that Kevin was originally going to be a character in that film. Following those revelations, we must wonder if there could be an Unbreakable 2 in the near future.
As for whether or not Shyamalan will make this sequel, it is still too soon to know but for sure he hasn’t finished surprising us.
Elodie Cure is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter @Elodie_Cure.