M Night Shyamalan makes a dramatic comeback with his latest thriller.
The movie delves into the fractured mind of a man with a diverse range of different personalities, who kidnaps three teenagers. The film’s strongest point is unquestionably McAvoy’s acting. If there is one role to demonstrate the extent of his dramatic versatility, the one with 23 personalities is definitely it.
His diverse range of facial expressions, accents and body language allows him to believably embody dissociative identity disorder sufferer Kevin. Frequent interjections of flashback punctuate the action throughout, allowing the viewer to piece together the life of the characters, with often disturbing reflections. We are shown snippets from therapy sessions, which provide a backstory to the complex psychology of Kevin and his different minds.
Temporal shifts also enlighten the viewer as to Kevin’s history, as well as that of female lead Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) as their shocking and unsettling pasts are gradually revealed. Amongst the tension, which remains virtually consistent throughout, occasional moments of humour provide light relief from the threatening tone.
Similar to the chameleon-like character, the plot is unpredictable and at times the genre itself is hard to identify. Whilst skimpily dressed teenage girls being held captive is reminiscent of a cheap teen slasher movie, the allusions to physical and emotional abuse, convey a far darker and more serious tone.
Overall Split, with its controversial portrayal of Diassociative Identity Disorder, is likely to divide audiences. If you are hoping to gain insight into the nature of dissociative identity disorders, Split is far from scientifically educational. However, the two dozen personalities that constitute McAvoy’s character do provide almost two hours of solid entertainment.