Critic 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.
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as Dennis/ Patricial/ Hedwig/ The Beast/ Kevin Wendell Crumb
as Casey Cooke
as Dr. Karen Fletcher
as Claire Benoit
as Uncle John
as 5-year-old Casey
as Casey's Father
as Mr. Benoit
as News Anchor
as Jai, Hooters Lover
as Kevin's Mother
as Academic Moderator
as Taxi Driver
as Flower Kiosk Seller
as Security Guy with Dog
as Older Worker
as Police Officer #2
as Game Show Host
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Critic Reviews for Split
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Audience Reviews for Split
When The Sixth Sense was released in 1999, it became an instant hit and has since entered popular culture. It's director, M. Night Shyamalan, became the hot property in Hollywood and much anticipation followed his projects. However, Shyamalan has never quite reached the same level of quality. In fact, some of his films were so poorly received that he became synonymous with mediocrity or, in some cases, inspired unintentional laughter. To be fair to him, though, his ideas were always great but he just wasn't able to deliver the finished product and his latest in Split suffers a similar fate. Plot: Three girls are kidnapped by a man and held captive in a locked room. The more they interact with their abductor, the more they realise that he assumes different personalities. Plotting their escape, they try to work out which of his personalities might actually help them while the threat of a more dominant and malevolent personality waits to surface. The problem that has seemingly plagued Shyamalan is that his twist ending of The Sixth Sense was such a rug puller that many audiences expected the same time and time again. No film has came close but Shyamalan has never wavered on trying to deliver them. His concepts actually operate on there being a catch so, in many ways, Shyamalan has consistently set himself up to fail. The ideas behind The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening, for example, all had massive potential but they all ended absurdly. It's not my intention to offer spoilers here but what I will say is that Split actually ties into one of Shyamalan's earlier films. It's only at the end that you realise this and, by that, it leaves you feeling duped again with yet another ending that feels misplaced. That said, it will appeal fans to fans of Shyamalan's earlier work that have been waiting patiently for one of his particular stories to continue. As a psychological thriller, Split has many positives going for it. It's very well shot and achieves the requisite, claustrophobic atmosphere but it's not the direction or cinematography that's the biggest positive. It's actually James McAvoy. Charged with delivering numerous characters throughout his split personality, McAvoy shows great range. He's in danger of over-acting at times, but his ability to switch from one persona to another (to another) in quick succession is very impressive indeed. To be quite frank, without McAvoy's committed performance(s) this film simply wouldn't work. The problem he faces, though, is that he's not given much to work with. The script is actually very lazy and it's a wonder that he manages to make anything of it all. His commitment to the film actually demands more of a pay-off for him but sadly he's not quite provided it. McAvoy is the film's anchor with an absolutely meticulous display of personalities and had Shyamalan stuck to his guns and focused on the job at hand, he might have produced a solid psycho-thriller. However, it's his decision to tie this in to another genre that's feels like a cop-out. As impressive as it's delivered, it fell short for me. Mark Walker
"Split" is an intensely realized thriller that pulls the rug out from under you every time you think you have it pegged as competent genre fare. It's more than that... and over it's two-hour running time defies your expectations with dark, complex drama and unexpected emotional weight. Basically Shyamalan is back, with the kind of quality Horror-hybrid that made him a household name way back before films like "The Village" and "Lady in the Water" hampered his credibility (and ones like "The Last Airbender" and "After Earth" made him a viral laughing stock). Equally credible in SPLIT's success is James McAvoy, who is let loose in a multifaceted, titular-phenomenon of screen acting that will likely go down as his best moment. Relative newcomer Anya Taylor- Joy (terrific in last year's THE WITCH) holds her own in yet another terrific, mature turn. But the story of the hour is M. Night, and whether or not he can keep this newly minted success going. I'm hopeful he can. SPLIT's final moments hint at a future of surprise, indulgence, and awesome as far as his filmography is concerned. Bring it on.
It's psychologically thrilling and disturbing. M. Night Shyamalan regains past glories with Split due in part to a solid script, eerie sequences and a cultivating performance from McAvoy. 4/5
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