FIB Film of the Week: Split (A M. Night Shyamalan Comeback)

Want to see something different on the big screen? Then you’re in luck. Split, by M. Night Shyamalan is for you. Take a seat, hold on to your snacks, you are in for a ride…

Movie Poster. Photo Credit SplitMovie Facebook Page
Photo Credit: SplitMovie Facebook
Photo Credit: IMDB

In an era of superhero films, psychological thriller Split is different and holds its own. Split builds suspense and character unlike the run-of-the-mill adaptations of the superhero universe. Recent criticism of Shyamalan has accused him of wastefulness and indulgence. In Split, from the very first shot to the last, not a moment of screen time is thrown away. The preciseness of the film-making and cinematography is a testament to M. Night Shyamalan’s style of specificity in direction. It also testifies to his level of restraint as the viewer never knows more than they need to and at times know even less than the characters. Shyamalan’s flair for building visceral fear and tension is apparent. Close up shots of young women as they try to escape draws the audience in and traps them with a sense of dread and helplessness. This tension is relentless and the audience is never allowed a single moment of reprieve or relaxation. The viewer is constantly kept on the edge of their seat as twists and turns takes the film in unexpected directions.

What would a psychological thriller be without the perfect antagonist and James McAvoy’s portrayal of the antagonist Kevin is masterful. McAvoy brought out a sympathy for a character that without a skilful performance could have so easily been one note. The viewer is able to see the changes in the personality of the character as the film progresses. McAvoy has proven himself to be a man of many talents, shaking off any lingering doubt over his acting range.

Photo Credit: IMDB
Photo Credit: IMDB

In the hands of a lesser director, Split could have easily become a predictable police procedural. Instead, Shyamalan allows us a peek into the psychology of the abused and proposes alternative coping mechanism for trauma via the characters of Casey and Kevin. The way he portrays the different personalities of Kevin directs the audience to think about the subtleties and shades of personality. We have all been through trauma in our life. We struggle with who we are. Through exploring an admittedly extreme case, Shyamalan shows us that we are who we believe we are and that Kevin’s fractured self is not too far from the multiple faces that we wear to protect ourselves.

The last act builds to a climax. From the moment of revelation of Kevin’s 24th personality there is no going back. M. Night could have ended this movie in numerous different ways but chose the one that best fit his story. Like most great directors, Shyamalan leaves the ending on an ambiguous note and it is hard to tell who came out victorious. One thing we know for sure is that M. Night Shyamalan has returned and he isn’t messing around.

Split is in cinemas now and check out the trailer below!