Three young girls are kidnapped by a man named Kevin who has 23 distinct personalities in his head. The girls have been abducted to be given as sacrifices to an emerging 24th personality stronger than all the others, known only as The Beast.
M. Night Shyamalan is a man who has had a real Hindenberg of a career, but more recently he has set about extinguishing the flames that consumed his once-promising career. His return to form was marked by The Visit, which was a 90 minute suspense thriller told in the found footage style. The narrative itself was good and contained a classic Shyamalan twist, however my enjoyment of the film was marred by the atrocious attempts at humour. The supposedly funny sequences were catastrophically abysmal.
His most recent film Split could either prove that he is back on form or that The Visit was a fluke. In my opinion Split is very very good and surpasses The Visit in pretty much every way possible. Even going into this film expecting the worst, I was quickly won over, it’d be hard work to dislike this film. (The people most critical of this film haven’t seen it)
The acting in this film is extraordinary particularly that of the wonderful James McAvoy and the captivating Anya Taylor-Joy. I like James McAvoy in just about anything, whether it be great films like Trance or Filth or downright terrible films like X-Men: Apocalypse or crazy bonkers films like Victor Frankenstein. In Split he is clearly having the time of his life playing so many different personalities/characters and brings every one of them to life so that they all seem distinct and unique from one another. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Tatiana Maslany, he doesn’t even come close. However, there is no denying that he fully inhabits his role/roles eerily well. Hedwig is particularly unsettling.
Anya Taylor-Joy is superb as Casey, every line of dialogue, every action is brilliantly delivered, because it’s built on top of a dark back story that Taylor-Joy has immersed herself in. As an audience we see this back story unfold via the medium of flashbacks and these allow us an understanding of why she behaves in a way that is very obviously at odds with her companions. Anya Taylor-Joy is quickly becoming one of my favourite actresses and the more films she’s in, the better. She gave a masterful and haunting performance in The Witch, without doubt the finest horror film in the last decade and she gave yet another top quality performance as the eponymous Morgan in the sci-fi thriller Morgan.
Overall, this is an incredibly chilling horror thriller with two very good central performances at the centre of its black heart. There is a final Shyamalan flourish at the very end of this film that felt like a bit of an afterthought, but it doesn’t take anything away from the film at all.
A tense horror thriller that switched from exciting to disturbing to nail-biting to terrifying. It isn’t anything particularly special, but James McAvoy’s performance (or should that be performances?) are delivered in a way that only McAvoy can do and that alone is worth the price of admission. And if you think that Anya Taylor-Joy gives a solid performance then I urge you to watch The Witch, a film that you’ll never forget and will also make you scared of goats…probably.