I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. The man is a meme of himself. He has the ability to make some really good films and then the weirdest bullshit cinematic history.
Everyone knows that The Sixth Sense is a horror classic and it really is a very good film. Unbreakable was next and apparently, that is a good film, but I haven’t seen. One of M. Night’s films that I have been is ‘Signs’ and I don’t think it was that bad. I thought it was really well paced and I do like Mel Gibson even though the concept of the Aliens not liking water and trying to conquer a planet that is 2/3’s water and also has water in the air and not wearing any armour is a lot of bollocks, up until then, I liked it. I may do a video on ‘Signs’ because I really did like this film.
From then on, it was a steady decline with bullshit film (The Lady in the Water) leading on to bullshit film (The Last Airbender) and in recent years following things like ‘After Earth’ and ‘The Visit’, it looked like M. Night had kicked himself in the career but then, ‘Split’ came out and it was heralded as the return of M. Night’s great films.
It took nearly four years for me to start caring and now having seen it, I can see what people are talking about. Before we get into the nitty gritty, you know how this works by now, let’s have a look at the plot.
Three teenage girls; Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) and are kept together in one room. It becomes scarily obvious very quickly that this man has several personalities and through the course of the film, we learn that some of the personalities are conspiring against each other to bring out the dreaded ‘24th personality’ and the girls are being held for an even more sinister purpose than is usual for a middle aged man with 23 personalities holding three girls hostage.
The first thing to say is that this movie works because of James McAvoy. I thought he was superb in this film. Some actors can’t even handle convincingly portraying one personality and whilst we don’t see all 24, there’s still a good 6 or 7 of them and it’s clear who is who at any given time. The personalities each visit the girls and it’s clear from the clothes that they’re wearing but there’s a moment when one of the personalities, ‘Barry’ is visiting his therapist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) and she is fully aware of his condition. ‘Barry’ seems sweet and he wants to be a fashion designer and he seems to enjoys showing his sketches to Dr. Fletcher however, she suspects that a more ‘dominant’ personality, ‘Dennis’ is actually talking to her. In a second, there is a noticeable change in his demeanor and the audience has already been introduced to Dennis so I knew it when he appeared and I was amazed. James McAvoy really did an amazing job and he definitely was the best part of this film.
The girls are your normal fair, Claire and Marcia don’t get much characterizing because they’re not that important, the two characters that we’re here to focus on is Casey and Kevin which is James McAvoy’s character’s name but we don’t find out until the end.
I just want to know something. Please, help me out. Why is it when teenage girls are held captive in movies, they keep doing things to annoy the person that’s holding them?
Through a lot of the film, whilst Casey knows not to annoy her captor, the other two are making plans to irritate him such as banging on the doors and ripping a hole in the ceiling. One girl hits Kevin whilst he’s in his ‘Patricia’ personality over the back with a wooden chair and then just runs away. I know that if my captor was distracted with their back turned and I decided to take my chances and smack the shit out of him and was successful in landing the first strike, I would finish the job. Instead, she smacks him once and then runs away and into a dead end which is where she stays. This is only an excuse for Casey to be separated from the others.
There are some things that you need to look out for in an M. Night film. First is M. Night himself. Our boy likes to pull a ‘Hitchcock’ and give himself a cameo in his films. I was on the look out and then saw him as the security guard to Dr. Fletcher’s building.
The next is a significant amount of either supernatural or nonsensical bullshit.
Dr Fletcher is giving a talk via Skype to an auditorium full of people about Dissociative Identity Disorder or (DID) which is what Kevin suffers from. She talks about a woman who is blind but one of her other personalities can see which makes no sense unless the blindness is psychosomatic in which case it would make sense but if this person has been blind since birth or was involved in an incident that caused them to lose their sight, there is a physical reason for why they can’t see and then another personality is triggered but this personality can see, I don’t know about that.
It’s mentioned that Kevin was physically abused when he was a child and that’s what caused his personalities to form. However, some of the other personalities are concerned that the others are trying to bring forward another personality that will do terrible things and eventually, Dennis manages to do this. This personality who is dubbed ‘The Beast’ suddenly and inexplicably becomes faster, stronger and impervious to damage. Also, this thing needs to eat people which is what the girls were taken for.
The last thing is the plot twist. There’s gotta be a twist in an M. Night film.
Which beings me to the ending.
Casey breaks free of her cell and sees the Beast eating her friends but she does find a note left by Dr. Fletcher who was killed by the Beast. The doctor believed that if Kevin’s full name was spoken, that would bring the original personality forward and so leaves Casey his full name. She speaks his full name, Kevin Wendell Crumb and Kevin comes forward. He’s shocked by what his other personalities have done and so tells Casey to get his shotgun and kill him. Now he is threatened, all the personalities fight for control and ‘Hedwig’ wins.
‘Hedwig’ is probably the best personality in my opinion. He’s the personality of a nine year old boy and he sneaks into the girls room to talk to them and then thinks that he’s befriending Casey but she’s using him to escape. Hedwig has been manipulated by Dennis and Patricia into believing that is he hands over the reigns to the Beast, then no one will ever make fun of him again. Then, the Beast takes over.
Casey manages to trap herself and shoot the Beast twice at point blank range with the shotgun but it does nothing. As the Beast is stretching the metal bars to get to Casey, he notices the dozens of self-harm scars all over her body resulting from Casey being sexually abused by her uncle. The Beast deems her ‘pure’ because she is broken and the broken are more evolved. He leaves her alone.
The next morning, an employee from the Philadelphia Zoo (where Kevin worked) finds Casey and calls the authorities.
The news story of what went down is shown in a random diner and there’s Bruce Willis as David Dunn, his character from Unbreakable and there’s your twist. It’s in the same universe.
The character of Kevin was actually meant to be in Unbreakable but M. Night removed the character because he felt that there was a balance issue and I’m glad that he did it like this because Kevin deserved his own movie.
‘Split’ was seriously low budget with just $9 Million but took in an impressive $278.5 Million and the reviews were very good and rightfully so in my opinion.
‘Split’ led on ‘Glass’ which apparently was very disappointing. Again, I haven’t seen it. Now I don’t want to. I’ve already read what happens anyway and yeh, I’d be pretty pissed.
I was just thinking about it and I would say that M. Night Shyamalan is to films what David Cage is to video games. They both have ideas that have been done before and better and so they put in a load of weird bullshit to try and make some kind of point which is usually a metaphor.
So whilst ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Split’ and (arguably) ‘Signs’ were good movies (unbreakable is not on the list because I haven’t seen it), no one must forget that M. Night wrote a film that featured a character who was a writer whose works will change the world and then cast himself in the role… and then the film was shit. Maybe, I haven’t seen it.
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