Posted Jan 20 2017

Split - This M Night Movie Multi-Rocks

Dir: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring James McAvoy (x 23), Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula

A small budget seems to suit M. Night. The Visit a couple of years back was almost a return to form, and his latest, Split, is one step even closer. James McAvoy shows up – and shows up, and shows up…as a man with 23 personalities, none of them particularly nice – not even Barry, the camp fashion designer. And certainly not Hedwig, the untrustworthy 9-year old. Worst of all (or so we think) is Dennis, the janitor who kidnaps three young women and  locks them up in preparation for dinner. Someone’s dinner, but we’re waiting on that one – referred to only as the coming Beast.

What Shyamalan’s reunion with the master of the economically effective Blumhouse shows more than anything, is how well the filmmaker trades in genuine tension. Yes, there is more talk than action here, but the film is pervaded by pure menace. It moves from edge of the seat to the middle of the seat, but never offers much in the way of respite or relief.
it relies enormously of course on McAvoy – all 23 of him – who here is a veritable Tasmanian Devil of unpleasantness. At times it’s almost like watching a very dark Robin Williams on a very good night, as he rapidly moves between incarnations, all of them specific, all of them fully inhabited. Having the up and coming Anya Taylor-Joy amongst his captors doesn’t hurt either, and whilst the female characters do mostly concede to obvious skimpily dressed genre conventions, Tayor-Joy brings both real conviction and depth to her role, as well as empathy.

When left to his own devices, Shyamalan (who as ever insists on his Hitchcock-like cameo – and once again almost outstays his one-scene welcome) shows once again that he knows what he’s doing all too well. This is a film that will hold your attention and scare you – and all without the standard issue quiet-LOUD-BANG riffs that populate just about every other Blumhouse release. This is a tight, effective chiller, that even survives its third act move into more overt creature feature territory. Bring on the Night.

(Oh, and stay for the titles which may well constitute the writer-director doing a concerted bit of “Shyamalan Universe” building – and may well add up to more or less nothing,  but is still fun for those that remember and always hoped for more.)


Follow us on Twitter @lastwordonearth


Other News

Latest Reviews

comments powered by Disqus