‘Split:’ McAvoy’s vehicle or Shyamalan’s return?


Karen Kunawicz

When M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender came out in 2010, it scored six percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website. The average audience score on the site, which is usually kinder, was 30-perccent. It was so bad that it got to the point, where one reviewer alternatingly called the film, “The Last Shyamalan.”

His next movie, After Earth came three years later and scored 11-percent.

It could be remembered that the Indian-American director did hit a strong stride starting in 1999 with The Sixth Sense. This was followed by Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village. He was known for building an atmosphere of fear and spookiness and throwing a twist in at the end.

The question with Split is: Is M. Night Shyamalan really back?

While many will say he is, I think the glue that holds this film together and the air that keeps it afloat is undoubtedly the performance of its lead, James McAvoy.

Director M. Night Shyamalan (left) with James McAvoy who sufferes dissociative identity disorder in the movie ‘Split’

Split deals with “dissociative identity disorder.” A man named Kevin (McAvoy) has 23 personalities but threatens the release of a monstrous 24th. Kevin – under the control of one of his more malevolent personalities, Dennis – abducts three high school girls and holds them prisoner.

Apart from Dennis, we also get to see a stern lady named Patricia, nine-year-old Hedwig and fashion designer Barry. McAvoy is clearly in control and really, so much of the effectiveness of the film hinges on his performance – I would not know how this film would turn out if he were not in it.

On another note, the three girls who were kidnapped looked like they had great hair and makeup throughout their entire ordeal. Maybe there were provided with a make-up kit and hair products and we just didn’t know about it.

Split opens today along with two other locally made scary movies. There’s the “teen horror” film, Darkroom which follows a group of students who go ‘ghost hunting’ for thrills. They supposedly find an old camera possessed by a malevolent spirit, we expect things to go south from there.

Then there’s Ilawod (see banner story). It should be interesting to see what a director best known for rom-coms, a Palanca award winning writer (I’m a fan of her book, Waking the Dead and Other Horror Stories) and a promising cast can come up with.


McAvoy is Kevin as well as Hedwig, Patricia, Dennis, Barry among his many personalities


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