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Split (2016)

Damn. Just Damn.


Dennis (James McAvoy - Filth) kidnaps three young women. Dennis is not alone in his own head. Kevin Wendell Crumb has twenty-three split personalities, from Dennis (a voyeur with OCD) to artist, Barry, young boy, Hedwig, and controlling Patricia. Dennis and Patricia were subdued because they worshipped the twenty-fourth personality. The Beast. But now they are in control, and the Beast is coming.

James McAvoy

Split, from Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan, is a simple story told so well. Kidnapper, Crumb, is a complex character. Typical tropes for the villain of the piece are bypassed. He's not thuggish. He's not evil. Well, not all of him. Crumb is a surprisingly sympathetic man, who can be liked in so many ways, once you forget he's a kidnapper. The slow reveal of the characters is deft writing. McAvoy once again displays his amazing versatility, selling the character. He's wonderfully creepy. But that's not to take anything away from the rest of the cast. It's all pretty much stellar.

Izzie Coffey is excellent as five-year-old Casey - one of the kidnapped girls. It's through her eyes that we see a broken childhood, a sexually abusive past, and a life of self harm. A heavy weight, lifted well in a debut feature.

Kidnapped: Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and  Jessica Sula

The three kidnap victims all play out their parts solidly. Stand out performance goes to Any Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) as grown up Casey. Her wide eyed understanding of the situation, her guile beyond her years is portrayed with style. Haley Lu Richardson (Follow) and Jessica Sula (Skins) both play out the teen scream queens well enough - and not too over the top.

Betty Buckley (Carrie) portrays Crumbs long standing psychiatrist. She's an amazing actress with forty years experience.

Everything clicks. Shyamalan has had a rough ride. After producing genius, a couple of duds put him out with the trash in a lot of peoples eyes. This movie ranks up with his best work. A strong screenplay. A strong director. An amazing cast. With no FX to speak of, it's a character piece at its heart.

Just a gripping, terrifying, and startlingly real character piece.

Now, there is something else I want to discuss which is so big, dumb, and spoilery, that I'm dropping it to the bottom, so continue to the bottom of the page, if you wish.

Big thanks to Charred Remains Reviews and the Charred Remains Podcast - this review wouldn't exist without you.

Big. Dumb. Spoilery. Split and Unbreakable.

Okay, so I'm going to assume that you've seen the movie at this point.

Oh. Bruce Willis. David Dunn. Universe building. (Is that a good thing?) Anyway. So Split and Unbreakable are set in the same movieverse. That's a good thing. Shyamalan back on track, two of his best properties connected, and if you look in IMDB, we have an announcement of the movie Glass. Actors credited are Willis, McAvoy, Taylor-Joy, and Samuel L. Jackson. So the Beast, Glass, and Dunn are doing the smack down? Cool. But let's quickly remember one of the scenes in Split we all forgot about...

Crumb's therapist said his personalities were created from a childhood trauma when his father left on a train. Fine. Straight forward enough. But in one scene Crumb was seen laying flowers in a railway station. Hm. David Dunn discovered he had super powers surviving a train crash, in which every other passenger was killed. 

That's in this universe. 

I'm just saying, is all.

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