Some Beauties for a Beast
M. Night Shyamalan, is an odd case. He is the very definition of a man who has lost his way. While his first two features were groundbreaking everything after that has been,at best, lackluster. It has been 17 long years since Shyamalan made Unbreakable and collectively our patience for him has long since expired. So will this new thriller make take us on a tour of The Village or will it bring out a 6th Sense?
It’s seems like an obvious statement but James Mcavoy is incredible. In Split he puts on the performance of a lifetime. It would be all too easy for the most skilled of actor to degrade each of the 20 plus personas into nothing more than camp stereotypes, but in Mcavoy’s skilling hands, the movements are masterful. He can switch between personalities with as little as a flick of the hand. He is hypnotic as Kevin and all 23 other personalities that are displayed throughout the movie.
We are introduced to each personality with heavy hands. Each of them complete with dress changes and different mannerisms. However, once we get deeper into the story, those quickly disperse and we are shown that a “split” can happen at any time. Would you like to know what is more unsettling than James Mcavoy with a shaved head,dressed and pretending to be a woman? James Mcavoy with a shaved head, dressed as a 9 year old, pretending to be a woman. The portrayals are haunting, and each as strong and unique as the other.
Put next to James Mcavoy is Anya Taylor-Joy, who might just be the next big thing for Hollywood. Anya, by contrast plays a disjointed and troubled teen perfectly, she is accompanied by Jessica Sula and Haley Lu Richardson who both play a little bit smarter than Clueless teens, however all 3 are consistent in being ordinary.
M. Night Shyamalan, plays his cards so close to his chest in Split that you start to believe he is bluffing about the whole “Beast” thing, so allow me to be clear. By the time the final credits rolls, everything is explained and you are left open mouth and brain engaged. For a moment let’s ignore the “is there a real Beast or not” and let’s consider something M.Night Shyamalan is known for now… The twist.
When the twist in the movie comes, instead of being obvious and irritating, it is powerful and unexpected. It transforms one of the main characters and gives them an unexpected depth, which alters the ultimate outcome of the feature dramatically. The ending of the film, shows us something else about M.Night Shyamalan that we had almost totally forgotten. He makes psychological horror films.
Split is a film that continually disarms us, it leads us in with hypnotic performances, compelling scenes and what we think is the obvious outcome, then is goes and turns the whole world on it’s head, again and again and again. Try to imagine the moment when you find out that Cole can see the dead, only it’s every 30 minutes you watch. It’s that powerful.
Split is a film that is made in defiance. It is a thriller like no other and has put M. Night Shyamalan, back on the throne that he so obviously deserves.