Just over 16 months ago, I declared M. Night Shyamalan’s found-footage horror The Visit to be the worst film he has ever made. Fast forward to the present and I am hereby declaring Split to be the director’s best.
James McAvoy stars as a man diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, who kidnaps three young girls and holds them captive in his basement.
It’s cliché to say it but this really is M. Night Shyamalan back to his best – essentially bringing Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic Psycho together with Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs to create one of the most terrifying films of recent years.
Whilst there are no twist the likes of The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan simply sticks to the intensity of it’s story and its characters, doing away with nonsense scares and concentrating on terrific character development and the darkness of its setting.
It mainly focuses on 5 of the 23 different personalities James McAvoy’s character has, and whilst we do see fascinating snippets of these other personalities, the 5 are essentially the most important, and McAvoy breezes through the film with ease.
In a phenomenal performance, McAvoy captures the essence of each of those personalities brilliantly and he gives what has to go down as one of the most nerve-wracking performances ever witnessed.
This is what cinema is all about, and what Shyamalan does best. He gives us experiences that other films don’t and it’s great to see him back where he belongs, delivering films of the year.