By Jose Jara
I’ve Come to a Split Decision
By: Daniel Guzman
For years, I’ve had a love hate relationship with M. Night Shyamalan’s films, mostly hate. I thought he could do no wrong after Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs. Unfortunately, like most humans, he eventually let me down. I let him off the hook for “The Village.” I thought it was cunning of him to play the audience into thinking they were in for a supernatural thriller, only to have them be surprised once the blindfolds were off. Then came the start of a new infamous streak of bombs: Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, After Earth, and The Visit. So, you can’t blame me for having my guard up when I went to see his new film, SPLIT.
Split, starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, is the story of three teenage girls that are kidnapped by a mentally disturbed individual who suffers from having 24 different personalities. Scottish actor,James McAvoy, is given the complex role of playing Kevin who is the villain of the story holding these 3 young females captive for the purpose of using them as human sacrifices for his 24th personality whom he refers to as the beast. We are held in suspense to figure out if this beast personality is some sort of supernatural being or just a figment of this mentally ill individual’s imagination. I have friends who say I have a knack for spoiling movies in my writing, so I wont say much more as far as the story goes.
My overall take of the film is 50/50, or pun intended, Split. There are parts I did enjoy of this movie. James McAvoy is a talented actor that manages to spring to life these different personalities effortlessly. He produces characters that allow you to buy in to these personalities being separate and not just as one body. Not all of Kevin’s 24 personalities appear for the audience, but you get a decent sampling. Anya Taylor-Joy who is lately the poster girl for doe eyed lead actress in supernatural thriller neither makes this film better or worse. There’s no depth to her character, except when in classic Shyamalan form, she trails off in her mind to snippets of flash backs that will eventually give you a good whole picture of what’s really going on inside her. The underlying theme of what makes these three females pure or impure in the villains’ eyes or in the directors’ eyes, is a bit disturbing. I couldn’t figure out what did Shyamalan want me coming out understanding out of this, but I found it a bit bizzare. Shyamalan also spends a lot of time in the film being a sympathizer for this mental illness, which didn’t bode well given the acts that Kevin commits.
All in all, there are hints and bread crumbs of M. Night Shyamalan’s old signature work throughout this film, but the end result leaves too little to enjoy. He definitely swings away at the chance of showing the audience he can still deliver the goods, but those goods end up being outdated and a little tasteless. Final decision, possible rental, but not one to go to the movies for.