Split (2016)

Split is an american thriller, which premiered in September 2016 at Fantastic Fest and was released in January 2017 in the USA. It was both written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (director of Unbreakable, The Last Airbender, The Visit etc.). The main roles were played by James McAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia, Wanted, X-Men, Victor Frankenstein), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) and Betty Buckley (The Happening).

Hi! I’m here with another film review. I recently asked a bunch of my friends to recommend me some thriller they liked and one of them said that Split was a really good piece. I was sure I was going to watch it the moment I realised there’s James McAvoy playing the main role in it, haha.


Abstract

After watching Split, I did some research. I found that Shyamalan had this story in his mind for quite a long time. And as I’ve written above, he also directed Unbreakable (released in year 2000), which was referred to at the end of Split. I haven’t seen Unbreakable, but I think the plot is similar to the Split one, in a way. (I am not completely sure though and don’t want to spoil it to myself.)

The main character of Split, Kevin Wendell Crumb, suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID) and there are twenty-three identities in his body. Twenty. Three. That’s twenty-three completely developed people, thinking independently on the others. They can be men, women, children, whatever. (I was really amazed, because that’s incredible, isn’t it?) This Kevin has made it without any incident for many years. He has a normal job and manages well. He attends regular meetings with his psychiatrist (Dr. Fletcher), which help him a lot.
However, suddenly three girls go missing, kidnapped by one of Kevin’s many personalities and held captive in some basement. And few of the people in Kevin want someone to come in the light, at the same time covering the tracks so as not to be disclosed. And they are keeping the girls for him…

My review

Let me just say a few things about this…

Firstly, James McAvoy *clap clap clap* you did a perfect job! I loved how the personalities were truly different. Even if you concentrate on the details, it’s just flawless. To give you example, I could compare Dennis and Patricia – As Dennis, who is a very strong guy with OCD and an obsession with watching girls dance naked, James stands straight with his chest stuck out and his facial expression is very strict. Whereas as Patricia he lowers his shoulders to lessen his masculinity, he softens his voice a bit (he’s not overdoing it, though, which could happen very easily with a man-actor playing a woman – I appreciate that) and his expression seems kind and gentle.
On the other hand I found the character of Hedwig, the nine-year old boy, a bit problematic to believe in. I couldn’t figure out why he had a lisp. I mean, he’s nine, not three. Apart from this I really liked Hedwig. (Although my most favourite character is Berry.)

Second thing is, I LOVED the theme of this film. I did some reasearch on dissociative identity disorder and this is what I found:

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately show in a person’s behavior, accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness. These symptoms are not accounted for by substance abuse, seizures, other medical conditions, nor by imaginative play in children. Diagnosis is often difficult as there is considerable comorbidity with other mental disorders. …

DID is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders, with no clear consensus on diagnostic criteria or treatment. … Dissociative symptoms range from common lapses in attention, becoming distracted by something else, and daydreaming, to pathological dissociative disorders. No systematic, empirically supported definition of “dissociation” exists.

– Wikipedia

I just find this very interesting and I also think there are not many films on this topic. And that, plus the way how the film is made, makes it unique.
I haven’t seen anyone with this disorder “in action”, nor I know a lot about it, so I can’t really tell if the stuff we see in the film is legit or a little adjusted to fit the plot. In any case, I’d like to know more.

The one thing I feel is a shame is that we didn’t get to see all the personalities in Kevin’s body. The main ones were Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig (and the 24th one). Maybe Berry for a little while. Yes, there were short video recordings, where we saw some of the other personalities, such as Orwell and Jade, but that was all.
I know they couldn’t possibly make it all to the film, because that’s just unreal and it would make it more confusing and messy, but still, I wish there would be some bonus material where we could learn more about the other personalities.

The “thrilling” quality of Split was on point. I think that’s all I need to say about that.

I didn’t really get the part with Casey – there were a few hints which led to the fact that she was (sexually?) abused by her uncle, but it wasn’t really explained. Also, does it solve out in the end or what? (Also a slight hint, but not explained fully.)

The last thing I wanted to say about Split is, that I don’t really understand the beast character and all the things connected to it. I mean, Doctor Fletcher said, on the other hand, that it was only in their mind, only a fantasy. Hedwig said “it was here before”, so that means they’ve seen the beast or what? But they couldn’t possibly see the beast, because it wasn’t really there, was it? I’m confused…

To sum up: Split is an excellent film, showing the best and the worst in people, working with a kind of taboo topic and creating a perfect thrilling story using the DID theme.

My rating: 4/5


If you’ve seen it, feel free to let me know in the comments if you liked it.

Have a nice day! xo

Split
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Natalie K.

I am a girl in her twenties from Czech Republic. I study Italian and German at Masaryk University in Brno, where I live as well. I am obsessed with tea and vanilla ice cream, haha! I love books, blogging, Disney and of course my two adorable Rhodesian Ridgeback ladies.

4 thoughts on “Split (2016)”

  1. I saw this film recently and was also pleasantly surprised. Shamalan makes some good films and some not so good ones. I thought McAvoy did an amazing job.

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