I can’t say Shyamalan is back to that promising position he held back in the 90’s, but what I can say is he’s presented us with a tense thriller that whirls through the madness of Kevin’s (McAvovy) 23 alters. Anything regarding James McAvoy’s performance in this film is something incredible, surely the performance is rather swanky, but like hell it works. Morphing from the elegant, firm posture Dennis holds himself with and then appearing in a crouched manner behaving like a nine-year old for the next scene, McAvoy astonishes the audience and lifts this film from a mediocre thriller to something much more exhilarating.
That being said there are other characters in this film, supposedly there’s four others but in actuality there’s really only two, that of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey Cooke and Betty Buckley’s Dr. Karen Fletcher. Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula also make appearances in this film but there characters are extremely flat and whether Shyamalan does that because he doesn’t want to waste time on characters he knows are directed towards a tragic destination, his waste of effort shows in a lack of character for these two promising young actresses. Instead he chooses to focus on Casey (obviously, as she’s our protagonist) and Dr. Karen Fletcher who serves as the human manifestation of exposition. Surely, Shyamalan has hands filled with balancing out the plethora of personalities within Kevin’s head, but Dr. Karen Fletcher simply comes out feeling like a tool necessary for the progression o the plot. As for Anya Taylor-Joy, she’s been killing it as of late and although I didn’t love her performance in this film as much as I loved her performances in Barry or The Witch, she always brings a realness to the characters she portrays that surprises me time and time again.
As for the film itself, Split, like many of Shyamalan’s filmography is a film that doesn’t make sense until the end. There’s an unnatural element to the story not just with the Beast, but the way Dr. Karen Fletcher talks about Kevin’s DID that constantly challenges your suspension of disbelief until the very end when a little something is revealed and the groundwork of that world’s reality changes in your mind, adapting to that of the revelation’s.
Split isn’t Shyamalan at his best once again, but Shyamalan en route to his best. With Split, he gives us an amazing performance from James McAvoy that’s worth the price of admission alone (that is if ticket prices are actually dropping) and a generally fine, tense thriller involving the array of characters McAvoy presents. Anya Taylor-Joy does a good job in the film and it isn’t until certain things about her past are revealed that you actually start to understand her demeanor, but as that unravels you really begin to feel for her which helps you root Casey as the final confrontation of the film takes place. With the revelation I talked on and on about in the last paragraph, I must say, Shyamalan is taking us in a new direction, and a very exciting one at that, one I highly anticipate that could finally bring Shyamalan back to prominence.