Split is a psychological thriller centred on the life of a man, Kevin, with 23 distinct personalities varying in everything from gender to age, personality, and even allergies. The movie follows the man after he kidnaps three teenage girls and imprisons them in his house. The girls must try to escape before the apparent emergence of the super-human, cannibalistic, never been seen before 24th personality. James McAvoy perfectly portrays each of the characters that come to the surface from the sweet and playful 9-year-old Hedwig to Barry the New York Fashionista to the positively frightening obsessive compulsive Dennis. He brings all these characters to life in an award-winning performance if ever there was any.
Kevin has a close relationship with his psychologist, who I’m convinced has an unhealthy attachment to his manifest personalities. Through their sessions, we get insight into his mental state. It’s also during one of these sessions that we learn that Kevin, the original personality and victim of staggering childhood abuse has not come to the surface for years. We also learn that he didn’t want to live with the multiple personalities. The implication is that he wanted to die, which brings us to one of the key questions of the movie. Split forces you to interrogate what it means to be a human being. Which of the twenty-four personalities is the human or are they all human? It also raises the question of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
The entire time, all I could think about is what it must be like for Kevin… What must it be like to have no control of yourself, completely? What must it be like to tell your psychologist to let you die and have her remain purely interested in the theoretical study of a live subject? Does the doctor have the right to consider the other personalities as full humans capable of determining what happens to the body? Whose life is it? Whose body is it? Who calls the shots?
Think about it, if Kevin’s wishes had been followed in the beginning, if he’d been allowed to die, none of the carnage, heartache, and pain would have happened and no, this is not similar to building a time machine to go back in time and kill baby Hitler. Kevin himself wants to die. Hitler is a longer discussion on the wicked capabilities of the human being. Is your life not yours to determine whether or not you want to remain on this ride? I know I’d punch my own ticket outta here if I had twenty-something personalities some with a propensity for violence living in me.
Split raises engaging existential questions that will leave you deep in thought long after its runtime. The movie succeeds in capturing your full attention, manipulating your emotions with every shot and leaving you hanging at the edge of your seat as you wait to see what personality has come out to play. The entertainment element only is more than worth the screen time. It’s rare for a movie to arrest you from the opening frame to the closing credits. You will not want to look away for a second. The score is also wonderfully creepy, keeping your heart racing almost the entire time. The picture is well-done in every way. Why don’t you give Split a look-see? And if you’ve already seen it, do tell, what did you think?
Runtime: 116 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and behaviour, violence and some language
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley
Written, Co-produced & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
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