Film Review: Make a split-second decision and see ‘Split’

John Kirton, Staff Writer

Do you ever think about what it might be like to exceed the average brain and physical limitations of a human being? Just ask Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy), a main character in M. Night Shyamalan’s complex and emotional thriller “Split,” which was released to DVD on April 8, 2017. This psychological film, which takes the audience on a series of twists and turns through the plot, shows the struggles of a person suffering from multiple personality disorder and how his actions lead to the agony of others.

In the film, audience members experience the horror three teenage girls go through as they are taken captive by Crumb who has numerous personalities at the time he abducts the girls in a parking lot. Casey (Anaya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lue Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are the three girls who are drugged and held captive in the basement of a zoo. The captives go through heartbreaking experiences during their time with Crumb; each girl has different encounters with Crumb’s different personalities which were created due to the abuse he faced as a young boy.

The movie illustrates the dynamic diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, specifically how each personality is like its own person, only within the same body. On multiple occasions the three captivates are successful in manipulating certain personalities through which they receive information on how to escape their living nightmare. In their own cunning way, the film shows the struggles three teenage girls endure on their attempt to escape Crumb.

Although there are only a handful of characters that have a significant part in the film, there are two standout performances that are convincing in conveying their roles in the gritty and bizarre thriller.

Taylor-Joy is able to fully convince the audience of the physical and emotional pain her character, Casey Cooke, is going through. The quiet yet intimidating character is well portrayed being that Taylor-Joy shows, determination, anger, and fear in her body language as she fights for her life. At moments in the film, she reminisces on the time she was sexually harassed as a young girl. The pain and obvious discomfort she shows is heart-breaking to the audience as she gives an honest performance of a tortured girl who has a hard life and an even rougher past. Taylor-Joy’s acting in “Split” is far from Oscar worthy, but she is convincing in a way that captures the audience and tells a story through body language.

James McAvoy’s performance is everything between spine-chilling and elegant as he transforms himself into each personality with ease. McAvoy’s most superior acting moments in the movie are in times when his character is in a great deal of despair. In moments when his character is overtaken by stress, he shows the emotions through his face and especially his eyes which captivate the audience and shows the raw and overwhelming emotions he is experiencing. Overall, McAvoy’s acting is a silver lining in the film as it is a component that makes the movie as moving and frightening as it is.

At times, the film “Split” can be heartbreaking and heavy, yet it is thought provoking and features strong performances. It is an entertaining movie for someone with a thick skin and a love for action and emotional thrillers.

Grade: A-
Rated: PG-13
Length: 117 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula