Split (2017)

Anya Taylor-Joy in Split

Dave author picSplit is already being heralded as M. Night Shyamalan’s “return to form.”

I’d refute that claim for two reasons. The first is simple: Shyamalan’s last film, The Visit, was excellent: funny, clever genre fare.

The second reason is that Split is not particularly good. I think it’s reasonably well-made – Shyamalan’s use of space, lighting and dolly zooms are notable, and McAvoy’s lead performance as the multiple-personality “Kevin” is certainly committed – but it fails as the kind of schlocky genre film it wants so desperately to be.

My primary objection to Split is that it’s, well, boring. The premise is a good ‘un, but Shyamalan’s screenplay spends too much time outlining over-exposition and clumsy foreshadowing through an unnecessary psychologist character (Betty Buckley, dreadful). It’s the kind of film that sounds silly and fun when synopsised but is a (near two hour!) drag in practice.

But what earns Split such a low rating is the way it represents mental illness. I don’t have an issue with its realism, but simply that its conclusion glamorises mental illness in a way that I, personally, found deeply discomforting. You – like Richard Brody – might have an alternative read, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

1 star

2 thoughts on “Split (2017)

  1. Yeah, I found the way Shyamalan basically manipulates an actual mental illness into becoming a mechanism for a larger story I thought was pretty damn lame. It didn’t at first strike me as offensive or really … I don’t kjow, bad…. but you’re right.

    90% an interesting movie for me, I thought it was kinda taut and tense for most of it. That ending though about ruined it for me

    • I think I would have been okay with it more had it embraced its B-movie roots. By trying to frame it in a more ‘realistic’ context with the psychologist et al, it erased the ‘it’s just silly trash’ excuse imo.

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