Cocktails & Movies Review: “Split” – M. Night Shyamalan’s Most Irresponsible Movie Yet

by Mike Reyes

The second M. Night Shyamalan’s “Mental Illness Is Scary” picture in a row, this film is not only dangerous in its message, it’s really sucks too.

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There is only one M. Night Shyamalan film that I actually hold as a favorite of mine: 2000’s Unbreakable. Somehow, he caught lightning in a bottle, and following up that film with the severely ok Signs, it looked like Shyamalan would be a filmmaker that could provide moderate to superior entertainment. Of course, the moment The Village happened, his entire career went into a tailspin that has provided no respite from sucking.

Some might tell you The Visit was a break from the sucking, and those people will probably tell you Split is a good movie. In both cases, those people would be dead wrong, as M. Night treats mental illness with the same sensitivity in his latest film as he did in last year’s blockbuster meh-tacular.

Split BuckleyKevin (James McAvoy) has 23 different personalities, and all of them have created various factions in preparation of a 24th personality making its way into the fold. At about this time, Kevin abducts three young girls (Hailey Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Anya Taylor-Joy,) with a mysterious purpose in mind. As the hour draws nearer, and the girls get more desperate, Kevin and his personalities will do all they can to outsmart the girls who are outsmarting them.

Making matters worse, Spilt is horrifically edited. Intermittent flashbacks to the childhood of Casey, Anya Taylor-Joy’s protagonist, are mixed in with very little context throughout the film. Not to mention, one of those flashbacks is cut into a tense moment toward’s the film’s climax, on top of the one and only flashback we get to Kevin’s own traumatic childhood.  These aren’t the only instances of editing disasters in this film, as the first act cuts between the different stories in play so much, you can’t really develop the best grasp for the film’s supposed story.

And then there’s the patented M. Night Shyamalan “twist,” which finds a new place to make its home… a mid-credits sequence. This is where Split made me hate it the most, as the implication of this ending is such a cheap grab for nostalgic goodwill that it causes me to seethe with anger. On top of everything that Shyamalan bungles in terms of storytelling and film-making throughout this film, he goes and makes a Split Joybold faced move to get the audience to redeem his story. Considering how this ending is linked to Shyamalan’s previous filmography, it threatens to zero the balance of his goodwill account, putting him in a dead spin.

But hey? Who am I to tell you Split is a movie you shouldn’t watch? You might enjoy disassociative identity disorder being turned into a superpower! You might even enjoy people getting eaten, and cheap twist endings that beg you to like them. If you do, then Split is for you. But if you actually like movies, it’s hard for me to justify a reason for you to even give this film a second glance.

My Rating: 1/5