A Gripping Psychological Thriller: Reviewing M. Night Shyamalan's 'Split'

11 May 2023

"Split" is a psychological horror-thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, released in 2016. The film tells the story of Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID) who kidnaps three teenage girls and holds them captive in a secluded location.

Overall, "Split" received positive reviews from both critics and audiences for its intense atmosphere, James McAvoy's exceptional performance, and the intriguing premise. Shyamalan's direction brings a sense of tension and suspense throughout the film, keeping viewers engaged and on the edge of their seats.

split film review

One of the standout aspects of "Split" is James McAvoy's phenomenal portrayal of Kevin and his multiple personalities. McAvoy flawlessly transitions between different characters, each with distinct mannerisms, accents, and personalities. His ability to convey the complexities of DID is remarkable, making the film both chilling and captivating.

The film's screenplay explores the psychological depths of the characters, delving into the fractured mind of Kevin and the inner struggles he faces. Shyamalan effectively builds suspense by unveiling the different personalities (did you notice the use of yellow color?) and their agendas, creating a constant sense of unpredictability and unease.

Furthermore, "Split" benefits from its well-executed cinematography, utilizing tight shots and dimly lit environments to enhance the film's eerie atmosphere. The cinematography captures the claustrophobic nature of the girls' captivity, intensifying the feeling of vulnerability and isolation.

While "Split" is primarily a psychological thriller, it includes elements of horror, particularly towards the end. 

Despite its strengths, some viewers criticized the film for its portrayal of mental illness, arguing that it perpetuated negative stereotypes. The representation of DID in "Split" has been a subject of debate, as the disorder is sensationalized for entertainment purposes. It is important to note that "Split" should not be considered a realistic depiction of dissociative identity disorder.

About Split's twist ending

The twist ending of "Split" revealed the film to be a surprising sequel to M. Night Shyamalan's 2000 film, "Unbreakable." This revelation came as a significant revelation to audiences, as it established a shared universe between the two movies.

Such a classic Shyamalan move!

Throughout "Split," there are subtle hints that suggest a connection to "Unbreakable," but the full extent of this connection only becomes clear in the final moments.  Bruce Willis makes a cameo appearance reprising his role as David Dunn, the main character from "Unbreakable," setting up a potential confrontation between him and James McAvoy's character in a future installment.

The twist ending not only creates an exciting and unexpected link between the two films but also expands the narrative universe. It retroactively recontextualizes the events of "Split" and adds layers of depth to both films. It implies that the emergence of superhuman abilities, as seen in "Unbreakable," is not isolated but rather a phenomenon that extends beyond a single individual. This revelation opens up new possibilities for future storytelling and creates anticipation for what lies ahead in this shared universe.

While the twist ending was undoubtedly a memorable and exciting moment for fans, it also generated mixed reactions. Some viewers appreciated the connection and the potential for future crossovers and sequels, while others felt it undermined the standalone nature of "Split" and diluted the impact of its own story. However, it is worth noting that the twist ending was not initially apparent during the majority of the film, allowing "Split" to function effectively as a standalone psychological thriller before revealing its ties to "Unbreakable."

The success of the sequel allowed Shyamalan to write and direct a second sequel, Glass - meaning he'd made a trilogy that became known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy. 


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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