Come on let’s twist again, like we did in the early 2000s. It’s been a long time since a new M Night Shyamalan film was greeted with excitement.
With a miserable streak of flops including The Happening, The Last Airbender and Will Smith misfire After Earth, many had given up on the twist-loving film maker until 2015’s The Visit, which signalled a slight return to form.
He continues that ascendancy with Split, the story of three young girls held captive by Kevin (James McAvoy), a man with dissociative identity disorder whose 23 different personas fight for attention, while warning the girls of a nightmarish 24th personality named The Beast.
Taking a lot of influence from Hitchcock, the story gets inside your mind in a way few horror-thrillers can, bringing life to the creative premise with a wicked seam of dark humour – something sorely missing from Shyamalan’s earlier work.
McAvoy appears to relish his time away from the X-Men’s green screens, putting in an incredibly versatile performance that breathes life into the many different personas. Not quite as prominent, but equally interesting, is The Witch star Anna Taylor-Joy, adding a lot more to the story than a simple scared captive.
An absence of the standard Shyamalan twist is notable – there is a reveal of sorts but not quite the rug pull he’s famous for – showing how much the director has matured over the last decade. In Split, he’s created a film that rivals the films that once made him one of Hollywood’s hottest young directors.