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Split Movie Review (2016) | M. Night Shyamalan is a Paragon of Persistence

How many times did we see M. Night Shyamalan fall? Like an ant falling with food every now and then but trying again nevertheless. Split movie is his one shot that hit home run after more than a decade of movie making. He has finally grabbed hold of that ‘mojo’ he had been missing with his inventive thinking. It became all possible because of a rad ambitious project like Split and of course, a superb performance by James McAvoy.

Not only is the Split movie a thrilling flick, but it’s also bloody horrifying and gut-wrenching. It leaves you with dozens of questions wondering if a character like that could exist in reality, and at a lot of point, leaves you in electrifying shock. The story is about a man who has not one, not two, but 23 split personalities. Can you imagine that? He kidnaps three girls and holds them captive in an unknown location while he scours through his inner-self to discover yet another personality.

James McAvoy’s Performance

The heart and soul of the Split movie is James McAvoy. Had there been a different actor in his shoes, Split might not have turned as awesome. The way he gets under the skin of different characters is simply mesmerizing. He gets so lost you can’t tell any of his personalities apart. It is almost as if a whole new character has appeared out of nowhere.

The broken are the more evolved.

There is one scene wherein we get to see a close up on his gradual transformation where the camera zooms in to find him drop his act. He becomes a someone else altogether. Goes from casual to grave. And you know it in that fleeting second that James McAvoy is simply the best. You know at once why he is one of the greatest actors who is out there. He reassures you of the fact when he goes full-blown during the movie’s climactic scene.

Quickly becoming a different character with a snap of a finger and then delivering it flawlessly without going for a single cut, now that’s something.

hedwig personality of Kevin in Split movie

Amongst the numerous personalities McAvoy portrays in Split movie, we get to see these prominent ones:

  1. Dennis
  2. Patricia
  3. Kevin
  4. Hedwig
  5. The Beast
  6. Barry
  7. Orwell
  8. Jade

Apart from these eight, six remain prominent throughout the movie. The remaining 16 split personalities of McAvoy (that will probably be shown in the upcoming sequel) are:

  1. Ian
  2. Mary Reynolds
  3. Norma
  4. Jalin
  5. Kat
  6. B. T.
  7. Mr. Pritchard
  8. Felida
  9. Luke
  10. Goddard
  11. Rakel
  12. Samuel
  13. Polly
  14. Heinreich
  15. Bernice
  16. Ansel

One of the most adorable, fun and awesome personalities of our antagonist is the character called Hedwig. He is a nine-year-old boy who is a delight to watch and listen to. James McAvoy plays it really convincingly too. He almost makes you feel sorry for his villainy.

Plot of Split Movie

Three teenagers namely Claire, Marcia and Casey are abducted by Dennis who is one of 23 personalities of a guy named Kevin Wendell Crumb. The latter has gone dormant with potent characters like Dennis, Patricia etc. calling the shots in his head. It is Dr. Karen Fletcher played by Betty Buckley who has been treating Kevin of his dissociative identity disorder who is oblivious of the kidnapping.

The three girls discover his special case when they meet Patricia, the feminal side of Kevin. Soon they meet Hedwig, a nine year old in the body of Kevin, who tells them they are chosen for a sacrifice to be made, for a 24th personality still in creation called The Beast.

Barry used to be the prominent character in Kevin’s mind who used to meet Dr. Karen for her psychiatric sessions. But Karen finds out soon enough (with all the mails she gets and with a feigned contrived show Barry puts on) that it isn’t Barry after all. She discovers about Dennis and Patricia for the first time, with the former telling her about the existence of their next personality called The Beast who is rising to cleanse the world of impure souls.

We are what we believe we are.

Meanwhile in his lair, Claire and Marcia attempt to escape but end up getting caught and are put in separate rooms. Casey played by Anya Taylor-Joy is the wise one with a terrifying past of child molestation. She befriends Hedwig and tries to escape but fails.

The Beast

Dr. Karen, with plenty of doubts, suspects Kevin to be holding the girls captive. She ends up coming to his place. When she discovers the captive girls there, Dennis drugs her and locks her up too. Meanwhile the transformation begins as Kevin turns into a beast. He displays phenomenal strength imitating characteristics of an animal that includes him climbing a wall.

the beast personality from split movie

An individual with multiple personalities can change their body chemistry with their thoughts.

As beast, he returns to a locked up Dennis, who has, by the way, written a note in a paper a way to summon the dormant personality Kevin by calling out his full name. The beast kills her and then kills Claire and Marcia before eating them up.

You can order Split movie from here:

The Final Showdown

Casey stumbles at the corpse of Dr. Karen finding the note to bring the real ‘Kevin Wendell Crumb’ back for a while. Disgusted by what his personalities had done, Kevin asks Casey to kill him with a shotgun. Just then we see all his personalities simultaneously trying to project themselves. When The Beast returns Casey shoots it injuring it a little. As it tries to attack her, it claims of cleansing the world of the impure and the untouched, people who have never suffered in life.

As it tries to rip open a cage where Casey has locked herself in, The Beast witnesses marks on her body understanding she was a pure soul herself. He spares her life in the process before disappearing into the night.

You are different from the rest. Your heart is pure! Rejoice!

She is then rescued by a worker, where she discovers that it was the Philadelphia Zoo where she was held captive in. In another scene, we see dominant characters of Kevin namely Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig talking amongst each other, reconciling and agreeing that Kevin’s 24th personality (The Beast) is the only way to change the world.

Let us show them what we can do. Let us show them how powerful we can be.

The Ending of Split Movie Explained

The final bit is one of the most exciting parts of the movie. It’s Shyamalan’s subtle wink at the sequel to Unbreakable movie.  In case you have missed it, let me take you back to what happened.

Kevin’s horrendous crime is being talked about on the TV in a diner. There are some customers reacting to the crime being similar to an incident in the past related to a terrorist wheelchair guy. Sitting next to them is none other than David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who reminds them the name of the terrorist by calling his nickname “Mr. Glass” (Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson).

It tells us that the incidents of Split happen in the same world of Unbreakable. It’s none other than Night Shyamalan’s very own Movie Universe just like MCU or DCEU where his movie sequels and movies are all related to each other. (Not all we hope!) The Split movie ends subtly hinting that the main super-villain of Split might cross paths against our superhero David Dunn at some point.

You can order Unbreakable movie from here:

The Final Verdict

The genius of M. Night Shyamalan can’t be applauded enough. His ability to think unlike the mob has helped us find some amazing movies over the years like The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village and Unbreakable.

With a subtle entry into the Unbreakable world with Split I think Night Shyamalan is back at his best. He is weaving great stories and it’s doing the trick for him.

As far as his direction is concerned, I loved how he tried to bring us up to speed with some of the other personalities of Kevin via recorded videos. Of course, not all 23 could have been possibly shoehorned in just one movie. I also loved how his personalities would black out only to return at unknown places. A wonderful way of showing what multiple split personality feels like.

Even if you let Split movie breathe on its own without the Unbreakable shimmer, and it’s still hands down an amazing blood curdling take on horror. Let it be the repugnant part of Casey’s uncle molesting her, or the part where The Beast takes his shot at Cannibalism unperturbed by its existence as a human or the nail-biting moment of an upside down clinging Beast charging on the lights to attack Casey, everything has been brilliantly done.

Composers James Newton Howard and West Dylan Thordson have done a fabulous job with the music. That scary chilly music as and when needed has been used aplenty.

A thrilling movie like that shouldn’t be missed. The next part is set to release in 2019.

You can check out the trailer of Split movie here:

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