I actually think this movie could be one of my favourite movies from this year, and that is quite bold considering it is only January still. Only just. I will have to say first off, that it was quite possibly one of the best roles (and there were a few roles actually) played by James McAvoy. He was electrifying, I think would be a great way to describe his acting. I have seen actors play roles like his in ‘Split’ where multiple personalities take over a single person which is completely beyond their control, but I have never seen such a character played so convincingly by any one actor.
As the story goes, three young girls are abducted by a man called Dennis who has 23 distinct personalities and who is having ‘sessions’ with Doctor Fletcher (Betty Buckley) who tries to help him control them all. I got the feeling in the beginning that, Dennis, straight-laced and psychotic, was perhaps lonely and needed some human interaction, other than the personalities in his head, and the animals that surrounded hostages’ prison. In the beginning, the three girls do seem to be randomly chosen, they are all knocked out, and then they vanish underground. Whilst it seems like Dennis is just keeping them for his own amusement, the girls, start to discover his odd behaviour, and soon find out that he has dissociative identity disorder (D. I. D) as different personalities start to filter through.
I found it fascinating how McAvoy managed to channel each personality, and switch between personalities so effortless on screen. The personality Patricia was on of my favourites, he was so convincing how he changed his appearance, from psychotic Dennis, to the cross-dressing Patricia, and then jump from there to the young, naïve Hedwig, random Barry, then back to his ‘proper self’ Kevin, the one he was before the others started coming through. I really enjoyed all of the characters he portrayed, they were all unique and fascinating in their own ways.
As the movie goes on, the girls, Casey, Marcia and Claire try to hatch a plan to escape their individual prisons after Dennis splits them up, and after discovering that there is one personality they have not met whom the others call ‘The Beast’. That instantly got me intrigued in itself. You already know that personality is going to be the worst one and it was.
What I also loved about the movie was how director M. Night. Shymalan, whom I haven’t seen any of his movies for ages (The Sixth Sense and Signs are my favourites) suddenly turned this thriller movie into a full gone Horror flick as the last of Kevin’s personalities is unleashed. It was literally like the last character had jumped out of a Stephen King book, it was shocking, it was inhuman, and it was terrifyingly, bloody good. Bloody being the operative word as the ‘Beast’ went on the rampage. Not even the sweet Doctor Fletcher could stop him despite having several ‘sessions’ with him to control his personalities. I loved those moments in the movie as it made all of McAvoy’s characters even more realistic. She genuinely tried to help him control those personalities.
I am not going to spoil it for anyone, but I knew after the ‘Beast’ was let loose things were going to get bad, and the tension and the fear that built up within the three girls, particularly at the end was just electrifying. The movie went from psychological thriller, to Horror like a light switch. It was awesome. Was it scary? Towards the end… a little bit, but I love those sorts of movies ‘Split’ is one of those movies that will completely draw you in, make you feel every emotion whilst you watch it, intrigue, shock, fear, even compassion at times, and then just when you think you have seen it all, Shymalan throws in the ultimate shocker curve ball that completely turns the movie on it’s head. And do you know…I wanted more. It was that good. Why has McAvoy not been nominated for an Oscar for this, that is what I want to know, because he was awesome. His attention to detail for each individual personality was just fascinatingly good. He was sensational.
If you are a movie fan like me….you need to go and see ‘Split’. Hats off to James McAvoy for playing such incredible and complex characters because he stole the show. For me, it could quite possibly become my favourite movie of the year! And we are not even out of January yet.
Thanks for reading.