“Split” Review : James McAvoy is Mindblowing in the Scary Slow-Burn Thriller!

Split has been in some news lately. The horror-thriller, made on a budget of just about $10 millions, has already made more than $120 millions in USA alone! Directed by Manoj Night Shyamalan, who was considered once upon a time as a master of twisted thrillers, faced a lot of criticism lately for some badly received duds. Sixth Sense catapulted him to stardom while Unbreakable and Signs maintained his reputation. But then arrived the gloom in his career. With box-office and critical failures (Remember “The Last Airbender”?!), Shyamalan became a joke. However, things turned bright in 2015 for him with the release of his small but effective thriller The Visit. Critics loved it and it made 10 times its budget at the box-office! So when he announced his next directorial with James McAvoy in the lead, expectations and doubts loomed over the movie, titled Split.

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I personally loved Shyamalan’s last outing The Visit and thus, had high hopes from Split. Starting off with the story without giving away much, Split revolves around Kevin, who has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher. However, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

The viewer has James McAvoy for company in majority of the movie, especially 4 of his personalities – the obsessive-compulsive Dennis, passive-aggressive Miss Patricia,  fashion diva Barry and the 9-year-old Hedwig. And McAvoy doesn’t disappoint! He owns the role and assures you how ace casting can elevate any movie to a whole new level! Watch him out in a pre-climax scene where he briefly exposes us to almost a dozen of his personalities, just mind-blowing! An early prediction – an Oscar nomination beckons!

Split has another brilliant turn in Anya Taylor-Joy, who impressed everyone last year with the horror flick “The Witch”. The angst and the emotions (especially following some flashback sequences) are superbly portrayed by Anya who carries the film on her shoulders, especially when McAvoy is not around. Veteran star Betty Buckley is another star as the psychologist who is restrained in her act. The girls with Taylor-Joy do ok in their parts.

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Split is shot mostly in an old warehouse which gives the perfect eerie feel to the film. Cinematographer Mike Gioulakis shows his finesse behind the camera and some shots will surely give you the jolts. Some viewers who have a strong craving for thrills may find the movie slow-burn is few parts. But flashbacks were necessary to tell us about the base of such mental disorders, how a horrid past can change us and our minds for the future.

The captain of the ship is certainly Mr Shyamalan. The director is in complete control of the proceedings and knows what he wants to show and how he wants to portray the lead character. It was certainly a difficult film to direct, but he surely is back in the form he was during his early career. Barring some stretched sequences, there is never a dull moment and the end seems satisfying. And yes, there is a patent Shyamalan twist in the end which will surely leave you shocked!

Watch this for some brilliant acting and some thought-provoking shocks. Shyamalan quenched my thrill-thirst for sure. And I will surely watch Split again for James McAvoy.

Rating – 3.5/5

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