Release: 20th January 2017
Writer & Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Three girls are kidnapped by a man with 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.
I went to see this film tonight and I have VERY mixed opinions. I don’t think I’ve written a post about a film before, but I had SO many thoughts about this one that I had to write one. If you haven’t seen this film then be warned – there will be spoilers. But if you have seen it or you’re not bothered about seeing it, read on! Get ready for an essay.
‘Split’: My Thoughts
I saw this film advertised a while ago, and it looked okay. The trailer made me intrigued to see it, and the fact that James McAvoy is one of my favourite actors helped a lot too. Before I go into too much detail, here’s the summary: it was okay to begin with, and then turned into something controversial, ridiculous and on the whole, a little insulting.
For probably the first half, I tried to take it with a pinch of salt, despite knowing how horribly controversial it was going to be. We saw 3 teenage girls taken hostage after a party by an unknown man, who locked them in his weird industrial-looking basement. We learned that this man suffered from DID (dissociative identity disorder), and the girls met several of his alters (a word often used to refer to the alternate or other personalities of a person’s core personality). These include a soft-spoken lady called Patricia, a camp fashion designer called Barry, and a naive 9-year-old boy called Hedwig.
“Controversial, ridiculous and on the whole, a little insulting.”
This part of the film was okay. I found myself getting into the story, and wondering how the girls would try and escape. I especially liked one of the girls, Casey. She was strong, and instead of screaming at each of the alters like the other two girls did, she would rationally talk with them. She was the most respectful to his disorder out of the three, and I was impressed by how calmly she spoke with them.
From about half way through, the film began to get a bit ridiculous. I’m completely cynical anyway, but it just wasn’t good. Throughout the films, the girls are told that “the beast is coming” and is “on the move”, and it will come for them tonight. As well as being a typical horror trope that almost had me rolling my eyes, the way it played out from here was just… rubbish. (Warning – BIG spoilers from here!) It turned out the ‘the beast’ was the 24th personality, unleashing itself in the form of an animalistic, super villain, Hulk-like monster. It ravaged through his home, squeezing his therapist so hard she snapped and died, and mauling two of the girls to death.
I don’t even have words to explain how stupid this is. I didn’t really understand it?! Until then, I could believe that this man was a person suffering with DID. But then this happened, and is ruined all credibility the film had (which was only little to begin with). I wanted to shout at writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and ask him if he realises that DID is a REAL, HUMAN condition, and not something that can manifest itself into a superhuman, Hollywood blockbuster-esque… thing? I hated it SO MUCH.
“Don’t get me started on the very end of the film…”
To put the cherry on the cake, the final scene shows a load of people in a diner. The news is on the TV, and the anchor is talking about this man and the missing girls. She explains that he suffers from DID, and – the part that made me almost widen my eyes in shock/annoyance – that his new nickname is “The Horror”. Imagine, just for a second, that a person in real life suffering from DID is nicknamed by news sources as “The Horror”. There would be all hell to pay! So why was it just glossed over like it was completely? This poor man, suffering from a condition that is literally destroying his life, is vilified and destroyed further by the press, because he turned into a stupid monster thing? RIDICULOUS.
(Oh, and don’t get me started on the very end of the film… it sucked. It was so cheesy that I wanted to leave right there. I won’t say what happened, but it was a reference to another film, and it was SO CHEESY. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.)
The one thing that just about brought some positivity to the film was the incredible acting. James McAvoy is one of my favourite actors, and has been for a few years. His acting in Split was insanely good. Each character had their own voices, accents, mannerisms and stances. It was crazy to see him switch between alters, and I sometimes forgot that they were the same person. On the whole, the acting from the main girls was great too.
I did genuinely enjoy the first half an hour or so, but I just wish it didn’t go downhill with its awful plot and beyond horrible representation of DID sufferers. One thing I can safely say is that I’m 100% glad I saw this with my Cineworld Unlimited card, and I didn’t technically give my money to this film. I had such high hopes despite knowing it may be controversial, but I left feeling very let down.
If you really, really want to go and see it for yourself, then that’s completely up to you. It’s worth it to see the incredible acting from James McAvoy. But in terms of the story and the insulting representation, I wouldn’t rush out to see it.
Have you seen Split? Please tell me what you thought, because I’d love to read some more opinions about it. Did you dislike it as much as I did? Or are you planning on seeing it? Let’s chat!