Split remains a jading watch in spite of being immersing momentarily.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split starts off rivetingly. The forlorn state of Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is illuminated as we see her in the midst of girls celebrating in a party. Two of her classmates and their father offer a ride in their car. When the girls are sitting inside the car, a loud thud can be heard behind their car and, in the next moment, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) gets inside the car and occupies the driver’s seat (Kevin has knocked the Casey’s classmates’ father down). Kevin kidnaps the three girls and shuts them inside a room. Shyamalan’s brilliance lies in making us think of all sorts of possibilities in regards to the intention behind the kidnapping and the consequence. So, the movie has a gripping premise but as it slowly starts uncloaking the mystery, the dullness creeps in.
Kevin is reeling under a mental disorder called dissociative identity disorder that has created multiple personalities inside him (Hence, the title Split). The film puts the focus on the most dangerous and mysterious personality inside Kevin – The Beast – and how this potent personality winds up taking the “light” (taking control of Kevin).
Whether as a dominant personality (Dennis), or as a small kid (Hedwig), or even as a feminine character (Patricia), James McAvoy has pulled off a stunning display of performance to depict all those different personalities in a distinct way as possible. The drudgery sets in when the split personality of Kevin has been revealed and the focus shifts to The Beast. In the process of creating a terrifying image of The Beast, a monotony is felt (For instance, Kevin’s conversations with Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), a psychologist, about his condition and the presence of this so-called threatening personality; or Hedwig’s description of this lordly personality to Casey). It, at times, feels intriguing (like, for instance, when Casey’s classmate tries to run away through an opening on the ceiling of the room and Kevin ends up catching her) but the repetitiveness and the surfeit of instances that intends to build a menacing picture of The Beast makes up for a banal output.
Casey’s agonising past, where she was sexually abused by her uncle, is nicely depicted and it does make you angry seeing her uncle luring a young and innocent Casey to come to him from behind the shrubs.
You are left with mixed feelings when The Beast finally takes the “light” towards the end. It does look formidable and fearsome. But as you have sat through a stodgy narrative and are yearning for its speedy finish, it is not exactly astonishing to witness this ultimate personality. Split remains a jading watch in spite of being immersing momentarily.