M Night Shyamalan is a name that has struck fear into many film fans over the past ten years. Not due to being frightened by his more recent films, but due to them generally being completely awful. Think The Happening or After Earth.

There was once a time, a little over fifteen years ago when Shyamalan was truly on form having directed the late 90s sensation, The Sixth Sense in 1999 and following that up with the acclaimed Unbreakable in 2000. Split sees Shyamalan return to making thought provoking, enthralling films. Not The Last Airbender.

This film, quite simply, is excellent and by the end of it, goes to a place that no-one was anticipating. That’s why it evokes Shyamalan’s earlier work. The legendary twist ending of The Sixth Sense was mind-blowing for audiences in 1999 and the reveal at the end of this film will certainly do the same.

James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class, Filth) is outstanding in his role playing multiple personalities of the same character. The mannerisms and quirks he brings to each of the major personalities the film shows work perfectly to distinguish between them.

There are a number of scenes where you see him subtly change between personalities and it is immediately noticeable which of them he is without him even saying a word.

This is what gives the film it’s twisted, horror element. The three girls kidnapped by McAvoy have to figure out which personalities can help them and which to avoid but that plot point is only scratching the surface of the amount of layers in Split.

It is a film you have to pay attention to and should you do that, the payoff is extraordinary. It also benefits from knowing as little about the story as possible before going in.

There is a certain element in the film that when watching it, may feel out of place at first but by the very end, total sense is made of it and can only add to the enjoyment of the film.

What Shyamalan was so cleverly able to do with this film and the links he made will delight movie fans everywhere.

Split also benefits from BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee for this year, Anya Taylor-Joy who a little under a year ago, starred in one of, if not the best horror film from last year, The Witch. Her role and performance here solidify her as the top young star in horror as she brings out such a layered, complex character in her own right.

She is not a typical horror ‘final girl’…she is much more than that. We should all be excited to see Taylor-Joy’s upcoming work.

After such a good year for horror film in 2016 with hits like, The Witch, Don’t Breathe, Train to Busan, The Conjuring 2 and Hush, this film continues the resurgence of quality within the genre and kicks 2017 off with a bang.

January is usually a month where, in the UK, you’ll find the Oscar films coming from limited release in the USA mixed in with mostly garbage. In film circles, the month is known as ‘the dumping ground’.

Split goes entirely against the trend of a ‘typical’ January release as it (sadly for McAvoy’s sake) will not be in contention for any Academy Awards and is simply fantastic; not just as a horror film, but as a story brought so wonderfully and again, very cleverly to the screen.

Certification – 15
Run Time – 117mins

By Morgan Robinson

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