Few directors spark a debate like M. Night Shyamalam. The man behind films like “The Sixth Sense”, “Unbreakable” and “After Earth” is always preceded with, is he still any good? Having started off with such a bang with his first two films, it was hard to watch what he had become, a director surrounded by ‘yes’ men who told him everything he made was great, even when it wasn’t. For me it looked like he lost his way with films like “The Happening” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, forgetting how to write the stories he was known for. After 2015’s “The Visit” there was a little hope that M. Night might have found his way back on the path, but were we a little too premature to think that way?
Hannah (Kim Director) is having a birthday party and she has invited all her friends from her class, including the one that is a little withdrawn. The girl in question that would just rather be alone is Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). When Casey’s Uncle doesn’t show up to give her a ride, Hannah’s father offers to take her home instead, a ride he doesn’t end up giving. Before they know it a man gets in the car and knocks all three girls out, when they wake up, they are in a room not knowing where they are. The man says his name is Dennis (James McAvoy) and looks like he means to do the girls harm. Things get even more confusing when they hear a women’s voice, but when she comes in they discover that it is Dennis, but dressed and acting different. It appears Dennis’s real name is Kevin, and there are twenty-three different personalities living within him. While some of them are good, the ones in control now see the world in a different way, which is not good news for the three girls as they attempt to escape.
Seeing this film was a surprise, as it had its world premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest. Seeing it wasn’t the only surprise as being an M. Night film the twist in it was almost on a level of “The Sixth Sense”. While the ending will have you saying ‘whoa’, the rest of the film might leave you saying ‘huh?’ Night’s directing ability has never come into question, even though his writing lately has left much to be desired. The film starts off good, but then “Split” starts to live up to its name and starts to degrade as the film progresses. What makes up for the story are a few things, one being McAvoy’s performance, as he is like a one-man show. Also helping is cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, who adds a beauty to the film with his eye. I really wanted to enjoy this more than I did. To be able to cheer M. Night back to the top. Instead I left thinking what I just saw was more in line with “The Village”, than any of his better stuff. Maybe though this is what he always was, and we should be happy with what we got all those years ago. When it comes down to it, “Split” is just another ok movie, and I think its unfortunate that we should be used to that.