There is much to rediscover with the return of director M. Night Shyamalan who has gained such attention with supernatural horror-thriller The Sixth Sense. Long before his latest film Split began its production, the anticipation is high enough to increase hype over the movie—how much more with the introduction of versatile actor James McAvoy as its lead star.
Split revolves around the story of a mentally-ill man with 23 personalities and his everyday life in between his creepy kidnapping of three teenager girls in a custom-built dungeon and his frequent visit to a psychologist, played by the ever-reliable Betty Buckley. On another hand, Anya Taylor-Joy as one of the victims tells much of a thinking role: useful and relatable.
The overall atmosphere of this psychological thriller adds up to the vibrant portrayal of McAvoy, who owns his character, one at a time, until it unleashes the 24th—something equally suprising and satisfying. While it could have been moreso interesting to see him literally play 24 characters (as how the film is marketed), minimal exposures of McAvoy’s dissimilar personas give proper highlight, individually, instead of moving into complex storytelling with all of them suited up for the story’s timeline.
Split showcases a terrifying James McAvoy in a role perfect for an M. Night Shyamalan comeback tale. The stylish visuals alone provide a classic atmosphere hinged on the director’s early works: the result as shocking as what audience could expect.
Comparable among its league under the same genre, Split exudes Shyamalan’s psyche—however torn it could be—and successfully transforms it into something terrifying thanks to McAvoy’s dependability. The outcome complements with the eerie sound design, determined editing and claustrauphobic . It would not be any surprise if this happens to be an origin story and a sequel is yet to come to explain all of it and provide answers to the film’s inescapable riddles.