Split is the 2016 film from director, screenwriter and producer M. Night Shyamalan. Best known for writing and directing the 1999 hit The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan has created a thrilling, intriguing and rather disturbing film that has impressed critics and audiences from around the globe.
Split focuses on the fragile mental state of Kevin, a man with an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder (DID). We as the audience are introduced to only a small collection of these identities, but are made aware that he possesses at least 23 separate alter egos. His personalities are controlled by one powerful and dark alter that is alluded to throughout the film, referred to as “The Beast”. This is the alter that forces Kevin and his other personalities to abduct three teenage girls and hold them captive. Outcast and loner Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) quickly becomes the group’s leader, and we witness her ability to think on her feet and analyse situations thoroughly. We can also see flashbacks from her childhood, where she learned her instinctive survival behaviour.
Kevin receives ongoing counselling from his psychiatrist Dr. Fletcher, who keeps a close eye on all 23 identities. She is an expert on his condition and believes that DID is a highly misunderstood disorder, also insisting that they possess qualities or powers that cannot be understood by the average person. Dr. Fletcher adds much needed warmth and hope to the film, showing audiences the trauma Kevin experienced throughout his childhood.
The most significant aspect of this film is certainly the outstanding lead performance by James McAvoy. McAvoy possesses the ability to effortlessly switch between personalities in an ultimately convincing way. There are times throughout the film where you forget there is only one actor portraying all 23 personalities, because of his faultless transition between voice, mannerisms and facial expression. If there’s one good reason to see this film, it’s to witness the impeccable casting. Although Split is of course a thriller, there are surprisingly a few laugh-out-loud moments. These are mainly presented through the alter-ego of Hedwig, a nine year old boy who befriends the teenage girls.
The movie is not without twists and turns as you question for what purpose the girls were abducted and whether they will be saved in time. Split demonstrates the magical combination of an intriguing story, interesting characters and flawless casting. It is a must-see film for 2017.
Split is in cinemas now.
All images via Split Official Website