Maybe bottoming out was the best thing that could happen to Shyamalan, for reasons not so much to do with his films as with his audience's perception of him. Walk into a film like The Village knowing it's from a "serious" director, and you might roll your eyes (as critics did) when it goes preposterous. But walk into Split only knowing it's a split-personality B-movie, and you'll be surprised how serious he can get.
After a decade of misfires and worse Shyamalan impresses here with a tale of abduction and multiple personalities. The film works due to a committed performance by James McAvoy and able support from both Anya Taylor-Joy and rising star Haley Lu Richardson. Usually Shyamalan's scripts collapse under their own weight but this one is pretty tightly wound introducing a mythology and possibly adding to an old one as well.
I should stop watching thrillers. They always get me so bored. Here the acting of James McAvoy is something to applaud. It is. But it seems a waste to put to it to use in a story that drifts into this. Thrillers always seem to use the plot as the pretext. It does not matter if it's Aliens in your belly, snakes in your plane, a prison guard after your, split personality, it's just the excuse to try and scare(?) you.*
Why do I keep returning to Shyamalan hoping for another Sixth Sense or The Village? This film could have gone way better with less - less crash, less boom, less bang. I don't mind the concept (and I'm really fond of building this as a non-official-sequel) but let's be honest: with 20 less minutes and an ever smaller cast this would be tight. Another blockbuster fail, in my opinion.
Mocked and shunned for the past decade, Shyamalan has proven to be the most resilient of 90's Hollywood "auteurs". Though not an improvement on his earlier films, SPLIT is nevertheless a reconciliation of sorts with fans. Night is helped by McAvoy who delivers his most memorable performance. And despite genre trappings, characters are allowed a genuine emotional vulnerability. The memo being: 'it's OK to be lonely'.
I believe this had a lot of potential and most of it it was really well executed, but a lot of details derail me from taking shyamalan style seriously enough. I think he had a chance to prove his talent with a great story and cast but he just fails it. The two final minutes feels like the author is trying to create its own marvel cinematic universe and that was just plain silly.
Digital. In movies, what's on can be quite unfair. There was a time when this filmmaker was the craze of so-called-critics and now is simply despised, exactly when in a less glorified phase he directs one of his most personal and formally stimulating films, in continuity with "Unbreakable", his best film, allowing a final that in McTiernen's hands would have been better considered. When the funk hits the fan.
[Psycho 3.0 for the 10's]Would Hitchcock please hand off the classic film baton to Shyamalan holder/anchor of cinema's future? Kynetic relay race on: Malick & Mann, already handed theirs. Night's taking over> Film is in surgical hands now. Opening: Big innocent Bambi-eyed gaze awarely looking at something (predator's POV or prey's incoming menace alarm going off?)Bechdel-Wallace test sans perspiration within first 5▽