Film Reviews

Split (2016)


Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley

Director: M Night Shyamalan

M Night Shyamalan hates critics. He doesn’t understand why they are so mean to him, and how they can’t see that he’s a genius. They must be jealous of him.

Yes, that must be the problem…

Personally, I try to never miss a new one of his films when it comes out. He never fails to Shyamalan the shit out of a concept that could have been truly awesome. The laughs usually kick in somewhere in the second act. Go on, get the pop corn.

The opening sequence of the film is really good. We meet three girls, two are close friends, Claire (Richardson) and Marcia (Sula), and one who was pity invited to the event, Casey (Taylor-Joy). They head to the car with Claire’s Dad, and they get in, while he fiddles around putting things in the trunk. They don’t realise that a sinister stranger has gotten into the car until it’s too late… Great opener, right?

They’ve been kidnapped by a man (McAvoy) with DID, that’s Dissociative Identity Disorder, what is generally called split personalities. He has 23 of them. And his personalities are talking about a very sinister sounding 24th, who they want to unleash.

On the one hand, it’s a cool idea for a thriller. On the other, it’s pretty insensitive. I’m not one who likes to jump on the “I’m so offended” band wagon, because I have a life, but Shyamalan’s point in this film is that people with severe mental illnesses will become superheroes or otherwise have ties to the supernatural. And he also seems to make the point that having intense trauma in your life will make you a better survivor, possibly through the mental illnesses that trauma causes. (Statistics would suggest otherwise, but this is a movie blog, so I’m not going to go into that).

OK, so, we know that it’s Shyamalan, that it’s going to have a solid opening, and a good first third and it will descend into the sillies about half way through. Well, it doesn’t disappoint, and because of that, it’s quite entertaining. James MacAvoy is really wonderful, all his personalities are distinct and characterised beautifully, and he must have jumped at the chance to show off his acting chops here. It’s a great role. Anya Taylor-Joy, who seems to be the go-to girl now for teen horror roles, is very good as the damaged outsider who might just have the right survival skills. And Richardson and Sula are really sweet as the softer part of the film, the undamaged by life, innocent and really very nice friends. Which makes them sound a bit bland, but they’re really not.

The only other character to mention is the psychologist (Buckley), who is necessary perhaps for exposition, but is the most naive, idiotic character in the whole cast. I think she wins the award from me for best for laughs, though I think she’s meant to be insightful or something. Who knows.

Anyway, Shyamalan is all about the twist and the one in this movie had me in stitches the most. Really, M Night? OK, go on then, why not. Oh and that lil zinger at the end… Geez Louise. This film ticks all the boxes on your Shyamalan Bingo card, including his arrogant, Hitchcock copying cameo. And the most important box it ticks? It’s kinda fun watching him screw up what is basically a cool premise for a film. The good stuff here is really good, and the bad stuff, while ruining the film, kind of makes it as well.

See It If: oh, you have to see it, it’s wonderfully daft!

37 thoughts on “Split (2016)”

  1. I loathed this film. I thought it had such potential and ended up being just another dumb horror film. The only reason I didn’t give this movie a fail was because of how amazing McAvoy was, and he was fantastic. I think the girls were overall weak characters and the Doctor was just so dumb. It felt like Casey’s story was underdone so that when the ending happens and we learn about what happened to her it doesn’t have the same emotional punch. I probably will never watch the movie again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did not get to see this in theaters so am anxiously awaiting the chance to see it on blu ray or cable. I give Shyamalan a long leash because he’s from Philadelphia and films all of his movies here so I want to see him do well as a local guy. I’ve heard really good things about the film and I quite enjoyed your take on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mister Shyamalan is really a hit and miss director. Some of his films are briljant, while others are so bad that it makes you wonder if it was made by the same director in the first place. Still I do think that he is heading back in the right direction. I really enjoyed the Visit, which I thought was a genuinely scary film. This one I have read a lot of good things about, and being a fan of McAvoy, I will definitely go and see this one when I get the chance. I really enjoyed this somewhat sarcastic but fun review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed the Casey character, not so much as a superhero, but someone ‘sharpened’ by experience – like a cop in a store seeing a robbery coming, or an army vet realizing he’s being followed in a parking lot. I was looking forward to the battle of wits: 1 vs 24.
    Shamalamadingdong has some great ideas – they should be taken away from him immediately and given to someone sane. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bahahha, I’ve enjoyed this review. And I’ve enjoyed watching Mr. McAvoy enjoying himself. You’re right, he’s riding this vehicle far and fast, that’s for sure. As for all the rest: I was floored by the violence and wondered, out of survival grief, whether we should leave “them”, the damaged, this superpower – to survive the beast. If you ask me, that’s the least we can do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! I’m glad you got a kick out of my review. Isn’t McAvoy having fun here? It’s great. Tell me, what did you mean by the next part? It is violent, I agree, did you mean leave the personalities or the girls? I like your comments, I just want to understand what you meant more fully. ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I wished to be brief but my comment suffered for this reason. Watching the film I – not at all any kind of survivor but rather spoilt by life – felt that for many of those who were abused in any way, survival feels like a superpower. What is one more beast to stand in their way? This could explain the one female that talks down and survives so many movie monsters.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep… The only reason he didn’t screw up 6th Sense is because of studio interference, he wanted us to know that spoiler thing about Bruce Willis from the start, for example. Since then, he has written, edited, directed and starred in his films, which I think makes it hard for him to stand back from them and really see them. Or get any other opinions than his own.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Split has been one of my personal favorites of the year. I did enjoy your take about the the mental health aspect of this film that I never took into consideration. I wonder if individuals suffering from D.I.D found some of the depictions demeaning. Awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s less that it’s demeaning and rather that he thinks they have magic powers or are somehow supernatural. But the thing is, I don’t think he really means any offence, you know?
      Glad you liked the review, and great to hear your thoughts too.


  7. Aw, I thought Split was pretty well done actually! Especially given that it’s a sequel to the movie referenced at the end (trying to avoid spoiling it, haha!). But I do agree that James McAvoy is wonderful in this. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. M Night movies have been disappointing since The Sixth Sense. But I do get a good laugh out of Signs and The Village’s silly twists. πŸ˜‰

        I’ve seen The Visit, which is surprisingly decent! Loved the old horror vibes and tinge of dark humour. How did you find it?


      2. Absolutely, they have been disappointing. But I totally love having a laugh at Signs and The Villiage too. Classic moments in both films that just make me giggle. I thought The Visit was quite good, flawed, but good. I did review it, but I think it was for another site.

        Liked by 1 person

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