Split Story: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with an extremely rare and unusual personality disorder harboring 23 unique identities. The girls are perplexed by his motives as they witness his different personas – all they know is that they need to escape from this dangerous and unpredictable man.
Split Review: ‘Split’ immerses you into the chilling world of its characters as they descend into their individual versions of hell. On one hand, is Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) whose personas range from charming to downright menacing. Along with his therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), we – the audience, underestimate the extent, and potential of his condition. Then there’s Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), one of the three kidnapped girls with a genuinely horrifying backstory leading to a trademark Shyamalan twist ending.
Anya Taylor-Joy is a revelation as an actress, displaying courage and heart-wrenching vulnerability as Casey. She would steal the limelight if not for a career-defining performance by James McAvoy. Kevin’s complex personas – each with their own nuances ranging from speech impediments to unique body language; which McAvoy pins down all the way to the twitches, results in an unsettling experience which sets ‘Split’ apart from others in its genre. However, the intricacy of the story makes for a deterrent – albeit essential to the eventual climax. There’s a fair amount of exposition about Kevin’s condition – dissociative identity disorder – which results in some uneven pacing in an otherwise exhilarating endeavour.
Speaking of which – M. Night Shyamalan has suffered from an odd predicament; peaking early in his career with landmark films like ‘The Sixth Sense’, & ‘Unbreakable’, then fumbling the proverbial ball with entries like ‘The Village’. It’s commendable then, that the writer – director takes a calculated risk with ‘Split’, that pays off largely due to memorable performances inspired by a gripping, original story penned by himself that, surprisingly has a lot more to offer beyond this outing. If Shyamalan continues to bring his A-game to the big screen, he’s more than welcome to jump on the franchise bandwagon.