HomeMovie ReviewsSplit - Is M. Night Back?

Split – Is M. Night Back?


This week the Captain weighs in on SPLIT.

Will M Night Shyamalan return to his roots or give us another dud?


I guess this pretty much goes without saying, but…


Do not read this review if you have not seen the film or if you plan on seeing it. I will try to refrain from getting too spoiler heavy. But no promises.

By now if you were going to see it, you should have by now. You can’t go a minute on youtube without seeing some video explaining the ending. That’s actually what made me just go out and see it in the first place. I had heard something about the ending in a review I watched. They don’t exactly do spoilers so I figured I was safe. Nope. They didn’t give anything too important away but just knowing this one “spoiler” or should I say “reveal” intrigued me. But it was only a matter of time before some asshole eventually told me everything. And usually I’m that asshole!

M. Night Shyamalan and I have a difficult relationship. Ever since The Sixth Sense, I’ve gone to the theater to see his films. I can only say that about one other director and that’s Quentin Tarantino. But all that stopped after I went to see Lady in the Water. It was the first time of M. Night I was completely disappointed in on just about every aspect. It was like watching a man with the large ego having a mental breakdown.

The Happening I watched from a bootleg copy I somehow got. I don’t even remember how I got it, just that all the gore was censored out of it. So it left me wondering why this was even rated R. Which seemed weird seeing as that film was promoted as his first R rated film. It wasn’t until I caught it on HBO or something that I noticed all the shit that was cut from my bootleg copy. Still not a very good film by any means. But it is unintentionally hilarious.

After that it was nothing but all downhill for M. Night Shyamalan. Though I will admit the first teaser trailer for After Earth had me somewhat intrigued. Then I saw the film. People really hate The Last Airbender, but it has nothing on how bad After Earth is.

I pretty much wrote him off as a writer and as a director after that. Then Wayward Pines came along and it kind of made me have hope again that maybe things might get back on track for him.

He needed to dial back on the ego, really get back to basics. And that’s when The Visit came out. It wasn’t great, but a major improvement from his last few films. Finally it looked like I could go to the theater and see a decent M. Night Shyamalan film again.

Now that brings us to Split, which might be the best thing M. Night Shyamalan has done since Unbreakable. Which is my favorite of his films. You’d think with the rise of the superhero movie, he’d want to cash in on that and make some sequels. Something the fans have been asking for for a while now.

I never saw M. Night Shyamalan as this big budget blockbuster kind of film director using a ton of SFX. Whenever he tries something like that, we end up getting The Last Airbender and After Earth. And in some ways Lady in the Water as well. He’s just not that kind of director. He lost touch with what he’s good at. And a giant CGI fest isn’t for him. Can you imagine Quentin Tarantino doing a giant Marvel movie? I can’t. That just isn’t the type of person/director he is. The same goes for M. Night. Maybe it was the studio trying to push him in a different direction. Maybe it was his oversized ego. But after The Sixth Sense people were calling him the next Hitchcock. That had to go to his head somehow.

So now we have Split. And like I mentioned before, it’s really damn good. It did kind of seem like M. Night might have seen 10 Cloverfield Lane beforehand, but from what I hear, M. Night has been planning on using this character for a while now. Any similarities I’m sure are completely coincidental. To say I’ve never seen this plot before is a bit of a stretch. I mean, crazy guy kidnapping girls and putting them in the basement isn’t exactly a new concept. Hell, I just watched the film Pet not long ago with kind of the same premise. Pretty good film by the way, I recommend checking that one out as well.

But we are here to talk about Split. So let’s get down to it.

Split stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke. She’s kind of the weird loner girl who I always dreamed of meeting in high school but never did. She’s in an art class with Claire whose birthday it happens to be. It would be rude to invite the whole class but not Casey. But as the party is wrapping up, only Claire’s BFF Marcia and weird girl Casey remains.

Not wanting to leave her at this place they’re having the party, they decide to drive her home. While waiting on Claire’s dad to get all her presents in the trunk, he’s attacked from behind.

And in a weird event, a stranger jumps behind the wheel of the car. The girls not really sure what is going on, ask the man to leave. He then replies with spraying them in the face with something that knocks them out. He only turns to Casey once she tries reaching for the door handle.

When they wake back up, they’re locked in a room. Guarding the door is James McAvoy. I’d say what his character name was but he has many. He has multiple personalities, about 23 of them. But only three personalities seemed to have hijacked “the light”. The light is what he calls it when a personality gets a chance to come forward. Those personalities are Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig.

Dennis is the personality that kidnapped the girls. He’s kind of the enforcer personality. He’s also OCD.

Then there’s Patricia, who seems nice enough but is in fact the ringleader of these rogue personalities.

Then there’s Hedwig. He’s just a 9 year boy but the others are using him because he can enter the light any time he feels like it.

Dennis and Patricia have been banned from the light because they share a kind of strange belief in an unmanifested 24th personality they call The Beast. And when he awakens, he’s going to need to feed. And he isn’t hungry for lamb chops. No, he wants young sexy lady guts to eat. Hence why the girls have been kidnapped.

That in itself isn’t really a spoiler. You pretty much know right away what he plans on doing to these girls. At one point early on Patricia calls them “sacred meat”. Marcia, Claire’s friend, suspects he wants to feed them to a dog. If only that were true.

As the girls freak out, Casey is keeping calm. We aren’t really sure why. We are given some flashbacks to her childhood however to help fill us in on the kind of person she is and what she has gone through. It’s just a camping trip we see with her father and her uncle. They’re out buck huntin’. What happens I’ll just leave you in suspense about. But it is what shapes Casey into the kind of person she is today.

But Claire isn’t some helpless damsel either. She has a black belt in martial arts, so she’s ready to try and kick his ass. Casey on the other is looking for a less confrontational way out. Hedwig is easily tricked and at first Casey tries manipulating him into fighting with the other personalities but that doesn’t exactly work out the way she hopes. But it does get him to say the room was made secure just for them. Meaning it wasn’t before. So maybe there’s a way out. And there is. A boarded up air vent.

Claire uses this discovery to climb out of the room. But Dennis knows this place a lot better than she does and quickly catches her, separating her from the others.

Marcia tries the same damn thing, when Patricia makes them a sandwich. Her reward for a tasty sammy? A chair to the back of the head. Casey knows better, so she sits her ass down.

Marcia is quickly captured and put in yet another room.

Now it’s just Casey.

Meanwhile, James McAvoy keeps going to see his therapist. She keeps getting messages from him saying it is important they talk. But when they do, he just acts like nothing is wrong. Dennis is pretending to be another personality, to help fool her. But the doc has been with him for a while now and can tell something isn’t right.

The other personalities are reaching out to her, but the three are quickly taking over. They know the beast is coming soon and what that means for them and the three girls.

I think I might end the review right here.

James McAvoy is fantastic in this. The role of Hedwig could easily be played for laughs or even the whole “go full retard” might apply here. But he manages to pull it off. There’s even little subtleties with the character you might miss. Like how when you’re a kid and you use words incorrectly, mainly because you just learned them. For me it was the word hypocrite. I used that word a lot not really knowing what it meant. I also used the word rape a few times. I thought it meant when you stabbed someone. I went to a haunted house once as a little kid, a huge mistake. I mean, this place was scary as fuck. But the waiting in line part I was psyching myself up. Saying how I was going to rape all the monsters. I wondered why I was getting all these weird looks. Never went to another haunted house after that. I mean, they had leatherface show up shoving a chainsaw in your face. Then he went around cutting up a body. That place was fucked up, how they let a little kid in is beyond me. Man, I’d rape them so good now given the chance… FYI, I still have yet to learn the meaning of that word.

Anyway, Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey was also great. She was Morgan in the film Morgan. A movie a lot seemed to hate but I rather enjoyed. She has a very unusual look about her. Her giant eyes could do battle with Amanda Seyfried’s.

And that about does it. Any more and I’d just end up spoiling it. Really check it out. If you wait too long it will most likely get ruined for you. Trust me, there’s more I could have spoiled!

Want more helpful screenwriting tips and movie/script reviews? Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.

And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Blood and Fire

Hank here. This is my first REQUESTED review from Amazon Studios which I'm excited about. *Sidenote* Thanks to Lauri for taking my review in stride, and...


The Bad News First