So, I’d call myself an M. Night Shyamalan fan, right? I’ve seen most of his movies, or at least his adult thrillers (I haven’t seen The Happening or The Visit, and from what I’ve seen that’s at least 50% good news) and I’ve liked damn near all of what I’ve seen. I will defend Signs to the death, for example, and I remember really liking Lady in the Water although if I’m being honest I can’t tell you a damn thing about it now.
(There’s gonna be some minor spoilers about a paragraph down. Don’t panic, no big deal. But just FYI.)
Here’s the thing about Split. You should see this movie if you’ve ever liked anything by Shyamalan. All of the things that he’s good at are on full display in this film, along with an incredible performance– set of performances, maybe?– by James McAvoy.
There is– brace yourself for this– not a twist ending on this one. Sort of. I guess. But what’s getting frustrating about Shyamalan is that he’s done the twist ending so many times at this point that his movies have this weird metatextual thing going on that rather than watching the movie you’re trying to figure out the twist. There is a thing at the end of this movie, and the more of a Shyamalan fan you are, the more likely you are to walk out of the theater with a huge smile on your face. If you are not a Shyamalan fan than the ending of the film– which is more of a Marvel-style stinger than anything else– will likely leave you more than a little bit confused. But there’s not a twist, so don’t go looking for it. Bask in the good performances and the creepiness and enjoy the film. Because the performances are great and the film’s excellently creepy and Shyamalan’s directing skills are used to their fullest effect.
All that said:
I feel like I ought to warn you that this film is going to be triggery as fuck for a lot of people, and there are about to be a couple more spoilers. It’s about three high-school aged girls getting kidnapped by a maniac with MPD, right? Which is a problem on a couple of levels: one, you spend the whole movie playing the “when are they gonna get raped?” game, which is always horrible. The answer: there is one scene of implied molestation in this film and it will come at you sideways and not the way you expect it to be. There is a lot of implied child abuse. There is not actually any sexual violence between the kidnapper and his victims. There are also a lot of angry disability advocates out there who are upset that once again dissociative identity disorder is being used as a crutch for a villain. I’m… a little more sympathetic toward the folks who will be triggered by the film than the disability advocates, if only because McAvoy’s character’s therapist is also part of the film and she has some very interesting comic-booky theories about DID that… well, probably won’t make anything better for those bothered by the disorder being featured in the film but it certainly makes it more interesting for the rest of us. That’s probably not entirely fair of me but it’s how I’ve reacted.