Ever since the release of The Sixth Sense in 1999, director M. Night Shyamalan has been the king of the motion picture plot twist. His latest offering, Split is no different.
The film begins with the abduction of three teenage girls, who go on to be held captive by a man who appears to possess multiple personalities. Casey, the reluctant outsider of the trio, tries to understand her captor and attempts to negotiate with one of the personalities he inhabits.
James McAvoy is a powerhouse as the complex Luke. He takes on a vast array of ‘personalities’ brilliantly, and at times, morphs seamlessly from one to the next. By taking on these varied characters, the audience can simultaneously love, loathe and be seriously disturbed by the many layers of McAvoy’s Luke.
Newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy is also impressive as the introverted and emotionally-scarred Casey. The flashbacks to Casey’s past allow for subtle character development.
The stellar acting performances from the two leads are the film’s strength. While Split does possess the expected plot twists that Shyamalan is famous for, it doesn’t have the same level of ‘edge-of-your-seat’ suspense present in his earlier works. Split is gritty, confronting and, largely due to the ferocity of McAvoy’s performance, rather disturbing, but the potential of the first half was not fully realised in the film’s conclusion. Plot twist – tick. Jaw-dropping, awe-struck, ‘didn’t-see-that-coming’ moment – mmm, I’m not quite sure. That being said, the film convincingly creates a sense of unease that will stay with you long after the credits finish rolling.
Reviewed by Rachel Gould