M. Night Shyamalan may have finally found his stride once more, following up chilling horror The Visit with a James McAvoy-led thriller. Three girls are kidnapped by a man battling with 23 distinct personalities that live within him and must attempt to escape before the 24th emerges.
Director: M.Night Shyamalan
Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, M.Night Shyamalan
High Point- The final scene, I will explain more in my spoiler review but it got me very excited.
Low Point- In retrospective that final scene may be the worst thing about this film as well.
Shyamalan is back he is sticking with what he’s good at, tense, terrifying thrillers, THANK GOD! I can’t take another The Last Airbender. I’ve gotta give him his dues he somehow came back from those disappointments. He has made two very solid pictures in the last few years writhe with the Shyamalan essence great characters, great twists and not complete bullshit much like the films that made him. It seems the worst is behind us and in return for withstanding that onslaught of bad cinema we have received two beautifully orchestrated horror thrillers. Now if you have never seen one of his films before I can honestly say he has a way of filmmaking unlike anyone else but the style he uses relies hugely on building momentum for a big payoff usually in the form of a twist. The downside of this method of movie making is that it can drag in areas and seem repetitive which it does towards the middle of the second act. The twist of the main narrative is so beautifully simple though and weirdly touching it makes up for the minor dull moments and is possibly some of M. Night’s finest work.
Anyway, switching gears I have to talk about the acting talent on show specifically the main man, woman, and 9-year-old child, James McAvoy. Mcavoy is an actor who I’ve always been a fan due to the fact he fully commits to every role he takes on but sadly gets overlooked at every turn. In this film, he plays Kevin the psychotic man struggling to control the 23 personalities living inside of his body, McAvoy somehow creates 9 individual, screen grabbing characters. McAvoy’s performance cannot properly be explained through words it just needs to be watched but somehow James can one second make you belly laugh in disbelief and the next minute terrify you entirely. McAvoy isn’t the only one bringing the heavyweight acting power though as Anya Taylor-Joy rounds off a fantastic year of movies for her, The Witch, Morgan and now this. For starters, she picks fantastic projects to spend her time on and each of her projects so far have been worthwhile. In this film, she creates such a harrowing character in Casey Cooke who much like the plot develops over time from a brooding brat to a damaged young teen thrown into an impossible situation who really gets you on her side. My only issue with the acting and in some regards the script as well is the reactions of the two other girls when a random stranger, McAvoy’s character gets in their car, they casually react with “erm, sir I think you’re in the wrong car.” It brought me out of the movie and that kind of sloppy storytelling really knocks a movie experience luckily the plot and the star actors managed to bring the film back on track to complete an enjoyable movie experience.
SPOILERS!!! I usually try my hardest to avoid spoilers but I just have to talk about that final scene. Oh, my god, Shyamalan in 2 movies and $84 million has made a more engaging superhero universe than DC has in 3 films and 650 million dollars. The end of this film was a complete surprise seeing Bruce Willis reprising his character from Shyamalan’s Unbreakable some 15 years earlier confirming that this film is in the same universe as Split. This huge reveal though is a double edged sword I have not been that shocked and excited in my cinema seat in a while and it was a phenomenal feeling but a few hours later I couldn’t help but feel a certain level of disappointment. After such a huge reveal you can’t help but think, what’s next? Shyamalan doesn’t have a great track record and the fact the two films don’t totally make sense being in the same world the third film could still be a huge mess, in fact, I’m struggling to see how it can’t be. Don’t get me wrong here, I more than anyone would love a third film that blows my mind taking such a unique look at a very over saturated superhero genre nut I’m struggling to see how it could occur. Fingers crossed Shyamalan can really pull out one hell of a superhero franchise.