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split-7Split (2016)

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley

He (McAvoy) has a lot of names and personalities, twenty-three to be exact. Now three young girls (Taylor-Joy, Richardson, Sula) are being held by him while he waits for the twenty-fourth personality to arrive.

split-9This film is the latest mind-bender from the eccentric filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense). He both wrote and directed this unexpected hit that stars James McAvoy (). The cast also features Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen), Jessica Sula (Honeytrap), and Betty Buckley (Wyatt Earp).

split-10M. Night Shyamalan exploded into the world of film with his hit movie The Sixth Sense in 1999. That film earned him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. This film is another example of his talent with the pen. Split is a tightly written suspense film that unfolds through a number of chilling events. The plot follows a unique path that is interesting and perfect for the themes. The characters each have unique traits as well. The dialogue required a special touch to differentiate all of the personalities of McAvoy’s character. With all of these aspects in place there is a lot to like about the story.

split-5The acting in this movie is good overall. That said, James McAvoy is great in this movie. His performance does everything right in drawing the tension and suspense from the script. Each of the roles he plays is unique and convincing. This level of authenticity was necessary in making this film work. He’s joined by Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sule. Each of these girls has a nice moment or two, but nothing really stands out from their work. One other nice performance came from Betty Buckley. Overall, this one has some nice moments thanks to the cast.

split-11This one looks right for the tone and the story being told. The movie lives within a relatively small space that cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (It Follows) used wonderfully. The use of light and shadow also plays an important part in this movie. The film also features a nice score from composer West Dylan Thordson (Joy). The editing also plays a big part in keeping this one nicely paced.

split-12This might be the second best film that M. Night Shyamalan has ever made. (I’m not his biggest fan, so I’ll let you decide what my favorite might be.) The writing is solid, and really gave the star something to work with. That star, James McAvoy, took full advantage of this opportunity and turned in a really wonderful performance. This is a definite must-see for fans of McAvoy or Shyamalan. I would also suggest this to horror fans and suspense lovers. (Even though I don’t think of this as horror in the classic sense.) I give this one 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 117 Minutes

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