Friday, May 19, 2017


When all is said and done I'm less interested in Split than the movie it may eventually lead to (a true sequel to the writer/director's best film). That said, M. Night Shyamalan's film is easily the best thing he's created in more than a decade (although given the level of crap he's put out over that time period that's hardly a high bar to clear).

Set in an universe Shyamalan once said he had no interest in returning to, James McAvoy stars as a schizophrenic with at least 24 distinct personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula) to feed the darkest of his personalities referred to only as "The Beast." For at least three-fourths of its running time the movie lacks the tension it should, partially because we're unsure how seriously to take McAvoy's character, partially because Shyamalan wants to hide aspects of the man for as long as possible, and partially because the script jumps around a bit too much rather than staying focused on the girls' dilemma.

Inter-cut with the girls' captivity are creepy flashback sequences involving the childhood of one of the girls and several scenes between our kidnapper and his therapist (Betty Buckley). While each work in and of themselves, both are given a bit too much screentime leading to the film lacking focus and tension where it could use it most. In other words, Shyamalan splits his attention a bit too often at times as, with all the dramatic interludes, he can't quite make up his mind to give us the straightforward thriller Split wants desperately to be. Far more focused, the film's final act ratchets up the tension for an effective ending (and nice epilogue tying all the events back to his previous film).

Available on Blu-ray and DVD, extras include an alternate ending (that is really more of an add-on scene which was cut), deleted scenes, and a trio of behind-the-scenes features.

[Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Blu-ray $24.98 / DVD $17.96]

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