I finally had the opportunity to see M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie, Split! After a solid week of attempting to talk my wife into seeing it with me, I gave up on her and I hit up the only other person I thought could enjoy this film as much as I was about to, my brother in law. Charlie and I went to the theater and saw it on their biggest screen, with best audio and video quality, had perfect seating with a perfect cup of movie theater coffee. It was going to be the perfect cinematic adventure.
If you’ve yet to hear the hype or see the trailer, Spilt is a story about a man with a multiple personality disorder who’s previously introduced 21 of his 24 personalities to a therapist. The problem comes when it’s revealed that there is one more unknown, malevolent personality inside referred to as The Beast. This leads to our character kidnapping a group of girls and we watch their attempt to survive.
I’ll start with this… Ultimately, the film was wonderfully done. Beautiful sequences, fantastic score, solid story line… but when those credits started to roll I felt a deep disappointment. I felt, for the entirety of the movie that I was waiting for something to happen. Even when things were happening, I just kept thinking that it would get better! When it comes down to it, I let the hype get to me. I’d gone in with expectations that simply were not met. The concept of the movie is of course terrifying but as a horror move, it didn’t hold up. This is a movie that the horror community has been raving about and killed in box offices. It was called “a win for the horror genre”. I honestly believe that had I not heard the hype or at least not bought into it, that I would’ve have walked out of this movie with a fond appreciation of what I’d seen! The performances put on by James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy were incredible. They completely deserve all of the hype that has gone about the film. M. Night Shyamalan’s direction and writing were absolutely beautiful as well.
Split wasn’t the horror movie that I expected it to be, but it definitely doesn’t shy away too much from the necessary grizzly scenes. Shyamalan was able to create an atmosphere throughout the film that was a great stage for a horror/thriller and the story is at points, absolutely heart breaking. I can completely understand why this movie has been placed in the horror genre. The story is horrific! I think I was just waiting to feel that sense of dread and fear that my favorite horror movies bring to the table.
This film has also received some backlash from groups who know and have been affected by Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). A lot of people have been offended by the portrayal of this specific disorder and have taken to the internet about it. This is one specific personality disorder that I have no personal experience with so I don’t feel that I can offer too much opinion on this. But, at the risk of sounding dismissive of these concerns, this movie is very specific about this individual who is intent on destroying the lives of these girls. Betty Buckley’s character, who plays the psychiatrist, makes her case on multiple individuals who have been affected by DID and points to their advantages. At one point she’s speaking with a friend, or mother, or colleague, I honestly can’t remember. She states “We view the broken and shattered as less than. What if they’re more than us?” She gives multiple examples of DID patients who are not malevolent and are affecting the world in positive ways. Though some may see this film who view it as politically incorrect, I don’t believe that there is a strong enough case to throw this movie out with the bath water. Besides, is there any good horror/thriller that is entirely inoffensive?
Side note, since we’re approaching the end of Women In Horror Month, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that we will all be on the look out for more horror/suspense/psychological thrillers staring Anya Taylor-Joy. New to the cinema scene, she’s absolutely killing it!
Coming from a horror movie fan, take this with a grain of salt, but it just wasn’t scary or tense. Split was filled with heart breaking backstories, horrific concepts and a vague feeling of suspense all throughout, but not enough to make you tense in your seat… If I had a star rating system, I’d give it 3 out of 5 simply due to my expectations. If you’re a fan of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Devil, go see this movie. Don’t expect horror elements to be at thick or gritty a Devil or Sixth Sense, but it’s still a “must see”.
If you thought different, let me know! I’m open to discussion and always open to criticism! Thanks for taking the time to read.