Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films…
Split (Dir. M. Night Shyamalan/2017)
People are split on M. Night Shyamalan. There’s a clear disconnect between his earlier films and his post-The Happening output. Thankfully, since The Visit, things have improved. Split manages to go one step further with a lead performance unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. After 10 Cloverfield Lane last year, the set-up of women trapped in a room seems too similar. But what separates Split from others is the challenges of the kidnapper, Kevin (James McAvoy). He has a disorder whereby he adopts different personalities, each of which believes they are separate people. This supernatural-meets-horror genre is territory Shyamalan has explored before, but this relies on an exceptionally strong actor to truly work effectively. McAvoy more than succeeds. His characters are completely different and share very little in common. There’s OCD “Dennis”, stern and straight-laced who works with “Patricia”, well-presented and cheeky in her attitude – just wait for the paprika. “Barry”, a camp fashion-designer; “Hedwig”, a nine-year old boy who’s a fan of Kanye; the list grows bigger. McAvoy is the one to watch and, while there are intriguing personalities among the girls who are trapped, it’s McAvoy who steals the show. After The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan worked with ever-increasing budgets until his brand lost its edge. This $9m Blumhouse Production is smaller in scale and therefore sits awkwardly when placed on a par with these earlier productions. Split nevertheless is an absolute riot. Creepy, innovative and with an exciting promise to finish, Split must be seen to be believed.