Split full movie review - Split Personality, Confused Identity
After exploring the lives of the boy who sees ghosts and the man who survived several man-made accidents, director M Night Shyamalan creates a thriller based on a person suffering from Disoriented Identity Disorder (DID).
SPLIT was born under this idea, which aims to gives the audience a good understanding about DID, but ends up leaving the theater feeling confused.
Three teenage girls ? Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu-Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) were abducted by Kevin (James McAvoy) at a car park. Locked in an unknown underground cellar, the three girls discovered that they were greeted by Kevin in different forms under different names: Kevin dressed up and acts like a straight man, a woman, a child and a gay guy. The girls soon discovers that Kevin is suffering from DID, which he lives with 23 personalities. Meanwhile, Dr Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is seeing Barry (one of the personalities under Kevin), a young artist who claims that he is suffering from some personality disorder. While Dr Fletcher is trying to prove that a person suffering from DID have the ability to change their physiology, the three girls are using his various personalities to rescue themselves, before Kevin's 24th personality comes after them.
As the title suggests, SPLIT was interpreted as someone with DID is living with split personalities. Though it was understood that McAvoy's Kevin was living with 23 personalities, only 8 personalities were seen in the entire film. With 8 personalities on display, this is not only challenging to McAvoy in terms of interpreting the respective personalities, it is also challenging for the audience to digest and understand the reason behind the distorted personalities. Audience were treated to McAvoy's interpretation on the different personalities he is living in, and how his respective personalities interact with his victims. However, this has starts to bore the audience, which some will find it time consuming and lack of interest, since everyone has more or less expected what will happens next.
The first five minutes of the movie gets straight to the point directly, showing how the girls were abducted without any reasons. While audience were expecting to see how the girls are finding their ways to escape from their abductors, Shyamalan works differently compared to other movies which talks about how victims find their way to escape from their abductors. Audience were given an exploration on the lives of Kevin through his counseling appointment with Dr Fletcher, which was intervene with Casey's childhood experiences. The only link that brought Casey's childhood into the movie was towards the last ten minutes, showing how is she escaping from Kevin's 24th personality. With the overall presentation not shown in sequence, it is easy to make the audience feeling confused and distorted.
McAvoy's portrayal of Kevin lives under different names through his different personalities. While it was mentioned in the synopsis that Kevin is suffering from DID and lives with 23 personalities, only 8 different types of personalities were showcased in the film. From playing a straight man, a lonely man, a woman, a child to a beast, McAvoy's performance was the only reason that kept the story from going on. Anya Taylor-Joy's performance of Casey is more of a compliment to the story. Her wit not only helps her to understand Kevin, but also serves as a way of saving herself in the times of danger. Somehow, the intervention of Casey's childhood trauma fails to compliment the story well, which overall it drags the duration of the film.
To sum up, SPLIT has a hard time to identify its identity, which the movie is rather confusing. While McAvoy's performance saves the day and Taylor-Joy gets more screen time, this is another movie which Shyamalan is having a hard time to connect with his audience and fans.