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Review of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split”

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Poster for "Split" in front of Tinseltown in Benton

Connor Morris

Connor Morris

Poster for "Split" in front of Tinseltown in Benton

Jake Roedel, Staff Writer

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(Warning: This review contains spoilers)

Night Shyamalan’s newest movie “Split” is his highest rated since his 1999 film, “The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan is a director and writer well-known for his surprise twist endings, but his recent work has been received terribly by critics and casual moviegoers alike. The worst in recent memory is the 2010 movie, “The Last Airbender.” Though the movie actually made a hefty profit, it received the worst reviews of any movie Shyamalan directed. He also wrote and directed the 2013 dystopian film “After Earth”, which featured underwhelming performances from both Will and Jaden Smith.

Split is completely different from these two catastrophes. The film has suspense, wonderfully-written characters and an engaging and dynamic plotline. In the center of it all is the character Kevin, who is played by James McAvoy. Kevin has 23 separate personalities. Kevin suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which is an actual disorder that is dramatized and fictionalized in the film. Each of his personalities have completely different traits, which work to serve as separate characters entirely.

Although he has 23 personalities, Kevin only displays nine of them throughout the movie, which is still impressive. The movie is anchored by McAvoy’s astounding performance. At one point in the climax of the film, McAvoy switches between multiple personalities in the middle of a monologue, an impressive feat of acting. The characters often talk of the coming emergence of a frightening new character, a 24th personality called “The Beast.”

The main conflict is Kevin’s abduction of three teenage girls. Kevin renders them all unconscious, and then they wake up in a surprisingly tidy room, fit with a clean bathroom and neat beds. One of the young girls suggests that they try to fight him and escape the place. The most intelligent and thoughtful of the bunch, Casey, determines that the best thing to do is wait and see exactly what they’re dealing with. Eventually, they bust through the ceiling with the heel of a shoe, and one girl crawls through the vents. She is caught by Kevin, and locked in a different room separated from the other two girls.

Shortly after this, a more sympathetic personality of Kevin invites the two girls to have dinner with him. One of the girls, Marcia, tries to escape at this point. Yet again, she is obtained by Kevin and locked in a separate room.

Through the cracks of the wooden door in which Casey is locked, she learns that the three girls are sacrificial food for the beast, and they will be eaten as part of a ritual. Kevin transforms into the beast, a being that can crawl on walls, and is insanely fast and strong. Casey escapes and runs away through the underground complex. Kevin chases her down the hallway, but Casey finds and locks herself in a barred cell. She sees a conveniently placed shotgun, and proceeds to shoot Kevin multiple times in the chest. Kevin falls to the ground, but eventually recovers from the gunshots in his higher physical form. He grabs Casey, ripping her shirt, revealing heavy scars from childhood abuse. The whole purpose of the sacrifice was for the beast to eat the bodies of those who had never suffered, but now that Kevin sees that she has suffered, he can’t eat her. He leaves, and she is eventually found by another worker.

As she was lead out by the worker, it is revealed that they were beneath a zoo the whole time, and Kevin worked there. “The Beast” was probably inspired by the animals in the zoo. In the last scene, people in a diner are watching a newscast on the arrest of Kevin, and they discuss his disorder. One lady talks about another guy that was arrested around 15 years ago with the same disorder, but she couldn’t remember his name. A voice out of frame tells her it was “Mr. Glass.” She gets up from the table, and Bruce Willis is revealed sitting at the counter.

This random cameo left many audience members confused. Those who aren’t familiar with Shyamalan’s previous movies don’t know that this was actually a teaser for a sequel to a movie that was made years ago. Split took place in the same universe as the movie “Unbreakable.”

I was very satisfied throughout the movie, as I grew attached to each character and was drawn to the intense nature of the film. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Though the ending might not be exactly what I thought it was going to be, it was still a rewarding film.

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