All in the mind: Split review by Rashid Irani
Recalling the work of such masters of the macabre as Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, Shyamalan devises a whopper of a climactic set piece which see-saws between camp and coolhollywood Updated: Feb 24, 2017 16:31 IST
Direction: M. Night Shyamalan
Actors: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy
Of late, M Night ShyamaIan has been dismissed as a has-been auteur, no longer capable of such twisty delights as The Sixth Sense or Signs. The good news is that the micro-budgeted Split proves that the director can still whip up nail-biting tension despite the limited resources at his disposal.
Working within the trappings of the psychological horror genre, Shyamalan right away introduces us to three high-school girls (Hayley Ru Richardon, Jessica Sula and Taylor-Joy) who are abducted from a parking lot and confined to a secluded underground bunker.
Their captor (McAvoy) apparently suffers from dissociative identity disorder. A schizophrenic with as many as 23 distinct personalities, ranging from a nine-year-old child to a prim-and-proper English matriarch, he warns his terrified ‘guests’ about the imminent emergence of personality number 24, whom he nicknames The Beast.
Despite the spirited response of their deceptively docile classmate (Taylor-Joy), the captive trio’s chances of survival are slim. Flashbacks to the braveheart girl’s traumatic childhood experiences are dexterously juxtaposed with her current dilemma.
Recalling the work of such masters of the macabre as Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma, Shyamalan devises a whopper of a climactic set piece which see-saws between camp and cool. An uncredited cameo from the star of a couple of his early films indicates the possibility of a sequel.
In the lead role(s), James McAvoy is simply astonishing. Old-timer Betty Buckley is credible as his/their clueless psychiatrist.
A stylish spine-chiller, Split marks a welcome return to form for the former wunderkind. Carry on spooking, Mr. Shyamalan.
Watch the trailer for Split here: