Running Time: 117 mins.
Premise: Three high school girls are kidnapped by a mysterious man with multiple personalities (James McAvoy). He has 23 different personalities, but the 24th is about to be unleashed.
Behind-the-Scenes: After a string of hits (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs), M. Night released one bad movie after another resulting in the nadir of The Last Airbender. He has been working his way out of director’s jail ever since. First, by accepting a paid-for-hire studio gig, the ill-received After Earth, starring Will and Jaden Smith. And, then by partnering with the uber-profitable Blumhouse productions for a cheap thriller, The Visit, that raked it in at the box office.
The Good: I wish I could tell you. To do so would be a massive spoiler, but suffice to say, the final scene is probably the most brilliant twist M. Night has ever pulled off. I left the theater and drove home practically giddy with excitement. That final scene sends it over the top, but even up until then, Split was pretty good anyway. It’s an effective and intriguing thriller featuring a terrific lead performance by McAvoy. He really gets to tear into this juicy role, and creates a richly textured character who is equal parts sympathetic and repellent. The screenplay’s structure is atypical and forces the audience to adjust their expectations almost immediately. It keeps you guessing throughout.
The Bad: We don’t really ever care about the victims, and their fates are almost beside the point. Some of the editing cuts are jarring, and the story jumps around a little too much for its own good, at the expense of building sustained tension. It’s not as scary as it should be. Then again, that final scene…
Should You See It?: Yes. And, you should drop what you’re doing and see it now. Don’t wait. Spoilers are going to fly fast and furious after this upcoming weekend, and you’re bound to have the twist ruined for you. Seriously, go now.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Signs, The Village, The Visit
Worse Than: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable
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