Critics Consensus

Split serves as a dramatic tour de force for James McAvoy in multiple roles -- and finds writer-director M. Night Shyamalan returning resoundingly to thrilling form.



Total Count: 294


Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,037
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Movie Info

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him - as well as everyone around him - as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.


James McAvoy
as Dennis/ Patricial/ Hedwig/ The Beast/ Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy
as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley
as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson
as Claire Benoit
Izzie Leigh Coffey
as 5-year-old Casey
Sebastian Arcelus
as Casey's Father
Neal Huff
as Mr. Benoit
Ukee Washington
as News Anchor
M. Night Shyamalan
as Jai, Hooters Lover
Rosemary Howard
as Kevin's Mother
Lynn Renee
as Academic Moderator
Peter Patrikios
as Taxi Driver
Kash Goins
as Flower Kiosk Seller
Roy Wilson
as Security Guy with Dog
Nakia Dillard
as Police Officer #2
Bruce Winant
as Game Show Host
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News & Interviews for Split

Critic Reviews for Split

All Critics (294) | Top Critics (51) | Fresh (226) | Rotten (68)

  • "Split" takes a step in this direction by positing that "mental sickness" might not always be an actual illness - but then takes two steps back by exploiting moviegoers' fears that people with unusual mental conditions can be unpredictably violent.

    Aug 3, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie's simultaneous evocation of both the depravity at work beneath society's deceptive surfaces and the inadequacy of the liberal technocratic order to defend against that depravity is the secret to its success.

    Jan 30, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Split isn't a disaster; it's just all over the place and not nearly as effective as it should be for something with such a good premise and performances.

    Jan 27, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Three teenage girls are held captive in a grimy building somewhere by a madman with 23 personalities, but at least they aren't trapped in a theater watching this exercise in tedium from vaunted master of surprise M. Night Shyamalan.

    Jan 26, 2017 | Full Review…
  • This is a filmmaker with almost no real talent for coherence, originality or purpose and in spite of his insistence on audience secrecy, his overly contrived plots are easy to figure out before the beginning of the second reel.

    Jan 25, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic
  • Shyamalan has returned to what he loves to do: use cheap horror tropes to create his own harebrained mythos.

    Jan 24, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Split

  • Jul 15, 2018
    This is mostly McAvoy's show, giving a stellar performance as a dozen split personalities, but the rest of the characters and actresses have their moments to shine too. Shyamalan has never been this sincere and focused, not even in his brilliant first few films. And then there is the final moment, starting with the musical reference, that connects this brutal, exciting and fascinating tour de force with a former hit. That's such a massive goosebump inducing moment, you're still shaking while the end credits are rolling.
    Jens S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 30, 2018
    M. Night Shyamalan's journey since 1999 when The Sixth Sense was released on theaters. After that movie's massive success, you could make the argument that he was (probably) the most sought-after filmmaker for a while. To this day, some people still consider The Sixth Sense to be his best film. And others would say Unbreakable, which I did see in theaters, is his best film. I remember very little about Unbreakable, but I do want to see it again. Having said that, given Shyamalan's career trajectory until 2015, you can't blame people for gravitating more to those first two movies as opposed to his output post-Unbreakable but pre-The Visit. Shyamalan's reputation took a nosedive, at least in my opinion with The Village. Though I would make the argument that Signs was the first well, umm, sign that the quality of his movies might dip a little. I wasn't a big fan of that movie, but you could have said that it's just a weak movie. Every filmmaker has a weak movie, no one has a perfect filmography, so there's nothing to worry about. The Village, however, was positively awful, lacking in suspense and its nonsensical twist insulted the audience's intelligence. The Village was so bad that, for a while, I actually refused to watch any of his movies. Seriously. I haven't seen The Happening, The Last Airbender or After Earth and I doubt I'll ever watch them because, quite frankly, they offer nothing of interest to me. I believe I even mentioned this in my review of The Visit, but I was really hesitant going into that movie because of the low expectations Shyamalan's own previous offerings had instilled in me. I don't wanna say I was worried, but I wasn't gonna allow myself to get excited about it just because it had received fairly positive reviews from critics and audiences. But, much to my surprise, I really did like The Visit. The problem with a lot of Shyamalan's movies post-Sixth Sense was that he was always trying to find a way to top himself with what he accomplished in the movie that made him famous. You could see that Unbreakable, despite being his follow-up to the Sixth Sense, didn't have that self-imposed pressure to live up to some sort of hype. Shyamalan made the movie that he wanted to make and, again, it worked out in the end because, as I already said, a lot of people believe Unbreakable to be his best movie. The problems come in when Unbreakable's disappointing box office performance. I think this is when his self-imposed pressure manifested itself. Because, while Signs wasn't a copy of The Sixth Sense, it was more along the lines of what people wanted from him. And, sadly, Signs was successful, so now he had a formula he could work with. Signs didn't work, for me, and The Village was even worse. Despite how bad his movies got, he just kept trying harder and harder. The harder he tried, the more his subsequent movies sucked. Which is why The Visit was such a refreshing change of pace. The Visit is such an effective movie. You know why it was effective? Because of its simplicity. Shyamalan didn't try to craft a complex horror movie with a bunch of clues, red herrings and subtext before, ultimately, utilizing a twist that made no sense given everything you saw. No, he made a simple movies about two siblings spending sometime with their grandparents, who start to show some really strange and creepy behavior. The twist itself is also, again and this is something that Shyamalan should stick with, was very simple and made complete and utter sense given everything that you had seen play out. And, of course, given the fact that it was Shyamalan's return to his roots, you could say, the movie was massively successful, making almost TWENTY times its budget. $98 million gross on a $5 million budget. This is the part that worried me, however. Because now that Shyamalan was on the winning side again, it inspired a fear in me that he'd give in to the tendencies that led to him, basically, becoming a joke with his insistence on nonsensical twists. Robot Chicken even did a sketch parodying this. The jokes and memes throughout the years have been plenty. This brings us to Split, however. I've written this 'essay' on Shyamalan and, by this point in the review, I'd almost be done with it. Not in this case, however, now is when we're actually gonna talk about the movie. So sit down and prepare your body for a long one. As I mentioned, I was worried that this movie was gonna see him back to his old tricks that, obviously, fell out of favor ages ago. I mean, honestly, prior to The Visit, if anyone had told me that Shyamalan's next movie was gonna be about a man with 23 different personalities (and a 24th more powerful one that the film builds up to, honestly, quite expertly) who kidnaps three teen girls, I would have lost my mind. But, upon having watched the movie, I can safely say that Mr. Shyamalan is not up to his old tricks. In fact, in my opinion, Split is the next logical step for Shyamalan as a filmmaker after The Visit. The Visit shined because of its simplicity. Split is definitely a little more complex, obviously, since, again, it deals with a man with dissociative identity disorder. Despite Kevin (the man whose body the personalities are inhabiting) having 23 and, again, later a 24th, different personalities, you only really get to spend time with three of them. You get to see some more of them in these short video journals later on in the film and as part of a chaotic exchange, where several other personalities take control of Kevin's body to attempt to understand what's going on. Those three main personalities, though, are Patricia, Dennis and Hedwig (who's a nine-year-old boy). These three have, essentially, shut all the other personalities out of the light (as they call it) and have taken over Kevin's body. These three personalities that are controlling Kevin's body are doing so as a result that they've had enough of people making fun of them and not believing in their existence. Their answer to this is to, seemingly, create a 24th personality, one that is super powerful, can scale walls and withstand insane amounts of punishment, making him near invulnerable. They do this to show the world what they are truly capable of. And that is one of the topics that I found most interesting about this movie. Because Barry, one of Kevin's personalities, who seems to be the most 'stable' one, goes to this psychiatrist, even though it's later revealed that Dennis has been pretending to be Barry all along. This psychiatrist brings up some very interesting ideas in how these people are viewed as less than other people. She brings up the idea that, what if, these people are more than. The reasoning behind this, she says, is that maybe they've unlocked the next step of human evolution. She cites examples where a person who was blind developed different three personalities, all of which had the ability to see. She also cites an example of how a dog reacted differently to a person's multiple personalities, in spite of them being in the same body. I don't know if any of this is based in reality, though Billy Milligan was arrested three rapes in Ohio in the 70s. At his trial, he claimed two of his other personalities committed the crimes without his knowing. He was the first person, diagnosed with D.I.D, to plea insanity. He also had 24 personalities, so there's obvious inspiration drawn from his case. What I'm referring to is the cases of, say, the core person have a physical disability and an alternate personality not having it, like, say, blindness. And, again, if there is a basis in reality, then who are we to say that people with multiple personality disorders are any less than us. This is something I have, and will, never claim. Like what if this was possible, to where we would access some 'secret' part of our brain that would allow us to But the topic that is brought up is definitely an interesting one and one that, honestly, I should probably do more research on because, quite frankly, I was utterly fascinated by its inclusion in this film. And, realistically speaking, they sort of have to go that route considering that Dennis, Hedwig and Patricia constantly talk about the arrival of the Beast, as the 24th personality is known. Once the Beast is revealed, his intentions seem to be to eradicate the world of the impure young. What he means by impure young, however, is young people that have not suffered once in their lives. They don't know true pain and, as a result, they have no value in the Beast's version of what this world should be. Oh yea, he also has three teen girls as hostage. Casey, of course, is the one who's the most developed. You get to see flashbacks to when she was a little girl, revealing a pretty horrifying and dark past where ***SPOILERS*** she was sexually molested by her uncle. An uncle that, later, became her legal guardian as a result of Casey's father's death. I'll be honest, while I certainly sympathized with Casey and, definitely, wanted to see her get out of this situation, she's not nearly as interesting a character as Dennis, Hedwig and Patricia are. I mean that's almost an unfair comparison, really, but every time James McAvoy was on-screen, it was like nothing else mattered because I was completely enthralled by him. And it's not like the movie failed to get me invested in Casey, because they did a good job at building her as a character. One who tries to assess the situation before she commits to anything. She uses certain of the personalities' traits against them, hopeful that she'll be able to get one step closer to escaping. Again, she's, actually, a well-written character. But it's like none of that matters once the triumvirate of personalities show up. I suppose it should be obvious that no review of this movie is complete without mentioning how fucking fantastic James McAvoy was in the lead role. No, seriously. He was out of this world in this movie. Joaquin Phoenix was cast before McAvoy and, honestly, I think Joaquin would have also done a great job, but it's hard to imagine anyone BUT McAvoy playing this role. The thing about McAvoy, that maybe Joaquin doesn't have, is that McAvoy can properly play a character like Hedwig, who's meant to be more innocent and, obviously because he's a child, childish. I say this because McAvoy, for the most part, has spent his career playing likable, very charming men. But he's also great at playing a detestable asshole, as Filth. I don't wanna say he's a detestable asshole here, but it requires him to flex his dramatic muscles a bit. Patricia is always cool, calm and in control. Dennis is meticulous and a neat freak, this personality manifested itself as a result of Kevin's mother's incessant need for everything to be spotless. And Hedwig, well, of course he's a child and he acts very much like a child. And the way McAvoy handles all of these characters is, honestly, something to behold. There's this one scene just before the movie ends, where Patricia, Hedwig and Dennis are having a conversation with themselves and the way McAvoy jumps from character to character, assuming their personality if even for just a few seconds, is quite lovely to see. This is a movie that people aspiring to be actors should see. I'm serious about that. Just study McAvoy's performance, his body language, his inflections and facial expressions. Something as small as body language can tell you just what character he's meant to be. Honestly, most actors don't get roles this meaty and, I'm assuming, that it's gonna be challenging for most of them to tackle. But, honestly, McAvoy hits a grand slam with his performance here. As far as the climax is concerned, it's really fucking good honestly. Because they do a great job at building to the eventual arrival of the Beast and, when he does, they also succeed at making him seem like a terrifying and menacing individual. No complaints about that, in the slightest. Let's see, as far as twists are concerned. Honestly, there really aren't any. If The Beast being revealed as an actual being with superpower counts, then yes, but I really don't see that as a twist. But, in all honesty, a Shyamalan movie without a twist is a twist in and of itself in a meta kind of way. I've already mentioned Casey's past, so I'm certain you could put two and two together about the Beast's mission. This brings us to the portrayal of mental illnesses. And, perhaps rightfully so, this film was controversial by people suffering from D.I.D as, yet another, stigmatization of their illness. I don't suffer from D.I.D, so I'm not gonna claim what is or isn't offensive to that group. I could claim that intelligent people could understand the difference between art and reality, but there's no denying the fact that there are some people that can't tell the two apart and will use this as a way to keep ostracizing those with mental illnesses. I am sorry that that is the case, but that's the way life is sometimes, sadly. I'm not making excuses for this movie, but I have to judge by what I see on-screen, as I am someone who is able to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Having said that, the biggest negative I have has to do with how they tie this to Unbreakable. After everything happens and there are people at this diner watching this news report about the Beast's action, one lady mentions (in a forced manner) that this case reminds her about that guy in the wheelchair from 15 years ago. Obviously referencing Samuel Jackson's character from Unbreakable. The lady slowly moves back to reveal the person sitting next to her to Bruce Willis' character from Unbreakable. He provides the name of the man she meant, Mr. Glass, and then the movie ends. This was probably the worst way to tie it back to Unbreakable, honestly. It just came across as so forced and unnatural that it didn't work in the slightest for me. It was Shyamalan's attempt at connecting his own universe together, a la Marvel, and it just didn't work. It is, to me, the worst part of the movie, by far. And, even then, it's not that big of an issue given that the movie ends immediately afterwards. I don't know what else to say, this review has gone on long enough. This is Shyamalan's best film in almost over two decades. The writing is smart, the atmosphere is tense and James McAvoy gives an Oscar-caliber performance. So, yea, I guess you could say I thought that this was a great movie. Here's to hoping Shyamalan's career renaissance continues with Glass, the last of his Unbreakable trilogy and, obviously, a continuation of this one with Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson returning. I would gladly recommend this movie to anyone.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2018
    A very welcome return to form from the filmmaker who gave audiences one of the greatest supernatural thrillers of all time, M. Night Shyamalan's twisty scary-good latest Splits its aces beautifully between psychological and supernatural horror...and both of them play a winning hand thanks to staggeringly brilliant multi-multi-faceted performance by James McAvoy. In this PG-13-rated thriller, three girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula) get kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities (McAvoy) and try to escape before the apparent emergence of a more sinister 24th. The writer-director's previous film, The Visit, boasted decent thrills and a solid twist but hardly made up for the Trifecta of awfulness comprised of The Last Airbender, The Happening, and After Earth (okay, so only the second of these can be called out-and-out 'awful,' but it's so patently bad that it brings down anything else in its blast radius). Split, however, finds Shyamalan in top form, on par with his second best, Signs, and approaching the level of expert craftsmanship of genre evidenced by his - and one of the horror's - best, The Sixth Sense. It would be hard to reach the mantle of that particular gem, but it tries its damnedest and viewers are the better for it. Serving up a crackling good story that amazingly doesn't demonize mental illness, it gives the troubled kidnapper at its core, Kevin Wendell Crumb, personalities both good, bad, and downright ugly. Plus, it shows him seeking treatment and what happens when he doesn't follow doctor's orders. And yes, just like that old chestnut filmic amnesia, it stretches credulity beyond recognition but the suspension of disbelief is worth it for the twisted and thrilling character study that it provides. Believe it or not, however, his is not the main character. That honor falls on Casey Cooke who makes a great foil to the many faces of Crumb. She comes with a heart-breaking backstory but manages to get the heart pumping thanks to her never-say-die heroism in the face of unspeakable terror. Without the actors to pull this all off, Shyamalan's complicated captivity narrative would be for naught. Taylor-Joy, who honed her horror chops with Witch, a very different but nonetheless killer thriller, makes for a very convincing heroine, earning every tear and mad tear. McAvoy, however, sells through 23 different personalities, each with different inflections, tics, and looks. It's a veritable masterclass in acting and it's beyond head-scratching that he didn't nab an Oscar or Golden Globe nomination. This particular genre has never been highly regarded by the H'Wood elite (The Exorcist getting bested by The Sting at the 1973 Academy Awards--'nuff said), but such a slight is really downright scary. To Sum It All Up: The Best of the Beast
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • May 25, 2018
    Started off okay but wasn’t worth sitting through.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer

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