Casual Critics – 23 Personalities Plus-One: A Review of “Split”

Kevin Wendell Grump can be Barry in the morning, Hedwig during the day, and Dennis at night. You never know who you are going to encounter; one personality here, a different one over there. Split (2016), directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is as twisted and demented as the recurring visual motifs make it out to be.

Split may not necessarily hit it out of the park, but it is without a doubt entirely intriguing, and certainly worth the watch. Kevin’s mental instability — in part due to his unheard of and widely-ridiculed psychiatric and physiological disorder — has led him down a path of complete lunacy. Although the different personalities living inside Kevin’s brain may not necessarily agree on what is best for him, they all agree on one thing: the beast is on the move.

Split follows the typical slasher film agenda, in which the killer is driven by disturbing childhood experiences. A secluded network of rooms-turned-prison cells, the obvious avoidance of guns, and the presence of sexually exploited female victims all fit the stereotypical horror-slasher criteria. However, I still wouldn’t consider Split to be a true horror film. As Kevin’s personalities alternate from one character to another, so does his mood, which in turn is accompanied by varying perceptions of what it is that Kevin is truly after. Kevin’s unexpected and often rapid transformations also facilitate the interplay between horror and thrill, which, consequently, defines the genre for this particular film: thriller.

James McAvoy, the man behind the many men (and even a woman, too) stuck inside of Kevin’s body, does a terrific job adjusting to his versatile role. As the personalities change from one to another, so does Kevin’s mood, tone, and body language, and McAvoy does a great job at showcasing this. Split is part cliché slasher film, but with an original slasher villain. Even if someone is not the biggest fan of this particular genre, any movie lover should appreciate the diversity brought to stage by McAvoy. Overall, Split is a mixture of a little bit of everything and more. I mean, when was the last time you’ve seen a horror film in which the evil minded monster decides to jam out to a Kanye West song like there is no tomorrow? That’s Split for you.

— Donatas Ružys, Film Blogger

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