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There are no split opinions on this, Split is M Night Shyamalan’s return to cinema

Gretchen Ferguson, Backpage Editor

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  1. Night Shyamalan is back with another nail biting, head spinning, sitting on the edge of your seat film with Split. After being in a rut with movies like After Earth and The Last Airbender, Split is a refreshing reprise to the draw dropping twists of his earlier work. The story is essentially a kidnapping flick with thematic elements of suspense, but the looming question that something supernatural is coming forces viewers into a panic fille state. With excellent casting, beautiful cinematography, and a compelling story, it has something every moviegoer will enjoy.

James McAvoy gives a phenomenal performance as antagonist Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with dissociative identity disorder. The Scottish actor effortlessly switches between a valley girl, a childlike, and to a Brooklyn accent during the film’s climax that is sure to to send chills down your spine for all the right reasons. His spine tingling performance is perfectly combatted by Anya Taylor-Joy’s in which she plays the role of the standoffish protagonist Casey. She is able to convey her character’s haunting past without ever verbally expressing what happened. The two actors have an amazing dynamic onscreen as they battle out one another through strength and wits and are not only able to tell a compelling story through words, but through their body language as well.

The direction that the camera flows with throughout the entire film is amazing. Shyamalan’s attention to detail is displayed perfectly as he shows the audience everything and nothing at the same time. Through a series of flashbacks telling the story of Casey’s childhood, she is is able to form a parallel between the once young and innocent version of herself to the tortured soul she has become. In each scene, she shows you little by little what happened to her and how it strangely is benefitting her. His use of direction and diversion is shown by what he decides to show you versus what he wants you to see. When he shows you McAvoy’s character on screen, he displays his loud characteristics. Slightly out of your main focus, he glues his audience in on little elements of suspense that keeps you guessing. One personality may be talking, but the mannerisms mimic one of the others which forces attentive viewers to think: who is really in control? Not only does he use his shots in a way to build suspense, but he also uses them to make the audience feel as if they are trapped as well. His use of wide shots to show the large empty room invites a sense of loneliness, whereas his close-ups force a sense of claustrophobia. Throughout the duration of the film, he never lets you feel free unless you are outside of McAvoy’s captivity. His use of drab yellows and browns for the place he holds his victims and bright blues and greens for outside captivity directly parallel each other in order to force a perspective that you and the girls are not safe.

Although the plot point of using dissociative identity disorder as the main element of horror creates a negative stigmatism surrounding mentally ill patients, Shyamalan’s intense game of suspense is what makes the film truly terrifying. Yes, the fear is surrounding what the unstable man will do to the young women he kidnapped, but the overarching question of what the beast is and what he will do leaves you curled up into your chair, practically begging for an immediate answer. The trauma of Casey’s childhood and the damning repercussions add an extra layer to the terror that is all together real and a main problem in today’s society. Shyamalan perfectly balances realistic fear with elements of the supernatural to scare his viewers. He terrifies them enough that they leave the theater with a small shaking in their hands and paranoia every time they are alone in a parked car.

His suspenseful story is only undermined by the lame and overhyped twist. As someone who has built his career based around shocking plot twists, it can tend to get boring and sometimes over the top, but having the twist be a link to one of your earlier films falls flat with a majority of your audience. Yes, it will get nerdy news sites buzzing with excitement that maybe you are releasing a new installment of their beloved film, but, for the rest of your audience, they leave the theater wondering what just happened and takes away from the central plot of your entire film. Although the added twist may fall flat for most viewers, it still doesn’t take all of the buzz away from the brilliant story.

Shyamalan once again displays that he is a master at suspense with his whirlwind of a movie Split. If you are a fan of suspense, horror, or are looking for a movie unlike any you have ever seen, then I advise you to race to the nearest theater and buy a ticket. Split is a movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat from opening to closing credits, and all together was an unforgettable experience.

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There are no split opinions on this, Split is M Night Shyamalan’s return to cinema