Director M. Night Shyamalan first made waves in Hollywood in 1999 when he came out with his movie The Sixth Sense. Para sa mga millenials na hindi pa napapanuod yung The Sixth Sense dahil di pa sila ginagawa ng parents nila noon, it’s about a boy who sees dead people and a psychiatrist who is trying to help him. (See it if you haven’t, just don’t Google how it ends.) A quick check on that movie’s IMDB page reveals that The Sixth Sense was actually nominated for six Oscars that year including those for Best Picture and Best Director. Needless to say, he was one of the most exciting young directors back then.
But then disasters like The Last Airbender and After Earth happened and M. Night’s name became synonymous with disappointment. He’s now out with his latest movie Split starring James “Professor X” McAvoy which is a movie about Kevin, a man with 23 different personalities, who abducts three teenage girls for reasons that are uncertain. He keeps them in a facility that we’re really not sure what or where. Ang interesting ng plot di ba? But “interesting” doesn’t exactly equate to “good”.
So the big question is: is Split any good?
As a fan of his early movies (even the early ones that we’re panned by critics) I’m glad to say that Split is a return to form for the director. Say what you will about the man and his directing style but he always churns out interesting stories na pag binasa mo sa Wikipedia yung synopsis, gugustuhin mong panuorin. Split is definitely one of those movies and it doesn’t take longer than 10 minutes for the movie to get right to the meat of it.
In Split, like with most of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, things are more than what they seem. Dahil mahilig si M. Night sa plot twists (although most of his twists in the past have actually not been popular with audiences), people already go in expecting something to happen. When it does, we consider it typical of his style and when it doesn’t hinahanap naman ng audience. But it’s a testament to the man’s skills and storytelling that despite all his recent misfires, we still eagerly anticipate every time we hear that he has a new movie coming out. May weight pa rin pag nalaman mong si M. Night Shyamalan ang director e. At least that’s the case for me. And Shyamalan’s storytelling skills are firing on all cylinders in this movie.
It’s hard to discuss the movie without giving away the plot, but one thing we can discuss is James McAvoy’s performance. McAvoy is one of the best actors of this generation and it must have been great for him as an actor to be given a role na pwede mong paglaruan dahil iba-iba ang persona and each one with its own quirks and tics. But great as he is, I wouldn’t go so far as to say na award-worthy yung performance niya. Magaling pero kulang e.
Casey, the main protagonist, is played by relative newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy who I first saw in the movie The Witch (one of the best horror movies to come out in recent years) last year. While watching Split, I overheard someone describe her as “Kendall Jenner na mas pangit” which sounds mean given na tiningnan ko yung nagsabi and hindi rin naman siya kagandahan but I guess tama naman kasi may resemblance sila. She plays the part of one of the girls who gets kidnapped and she has a mysterious backstory of her own. With movies like The Witch and Split, she seems to be on the cusp of stardom.
Split keeps the audience interested by gradually revealing more and more facts about Kevin’s condition and there are a lot of thrill to be had when watching the movie especially when one of the more violent personalities of Kevin surfaces. But between this one and the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane which also dealt with an abduction, I think that the latter was the better made film. Mas kinabahan rin ako doon kesa sa Split dahil mas maganda ang build up ng tension. Split slows down a bit in the middle as we find out more about Kevin’s condition through his psychiatrist. There’s a sense of “Okay, so kinidnap na niya. Ano na gagawin niya ngayon?” and you have to wait all the way to the final act to find out what his plans are. But nevertheless, if you’re looking to make your heart beat a little faster, you should definitely give Split a try.