We all know James McAvoy as an actor who likes a challenge and his latest film Split, releasing in January 2017, sets him up to give an incredible performance. The psychological thriller come horror runs along the same lines of intensity, insanity and multiple personalities as Trance (2013) and Filth (2013): but to a whole new level.
McAvoy allegedly plays 23 different personalities throughout the film, men, women, children and finally something completely unhuman called ‘the beast’. All this while he holds captive three teenage girls and keeps them locked up in a room, for what we do not know but we can only imagine it will have no happy consequences. The film also includes a relationship with a shrink and, of course, a twist ending; all in all, making this film into perhaps the most ambitious and potentially astonishing of McAvoy’s films to date.
Up and coming actress Anya Taylor-Joy, plays the sullen but smart teenager with a complicated past, who wasn’t part of the plan. Acting alongside McAvoy she is arguably just as strong a casting decision. No stranger to the horror genre she won the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor in 2015 for her role as Thomasin in Robert Eggers’ The Witch.
With films of this ilk however sometimes the twist is all, without it the film would be, at best able to stand satisfactorily on its own and at worst, well… it would just be a bad movie.
Split premiered on 26th of September at Fantastic Fest where is produced a generally positive effect. Jordan Hoffman, writing in the Guardian, called it a ‘a masterful blend of Hitchcock, horror and therapy session’ and described the twist ending as a ‘neutron bomb dropped in the final scene that essentially reframes everything you just saw’.
With so many elements to this film, strong directing, as well as acting, is crucial to pull it all together. Director M. Night Shyamalan, who’s successful films include The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000) and who’s unsuccessful films include Lady in the Water (2006) and The Last Airbender (2010), could be described as a hit or miss director. Shyamalan loves a supernatural plot and has produced several great twist endings.
With films of this ilk however sometimes the twist is all, without it the film would be, at best able to stand satisfactorily on its own and at worst, well… it would just be a bad movie. Although critics promise the twist in Split is just enough and not too much; this is sometimes a matter of personal opinion.
An exploration into the physiologically unknown, the supernatural, the genre of horror itself – Split has got a lot going for it. Just like any quality horror/thriller this film puts you thought your paces but more than makes up for it.
By Anna Whealing
For more Maverick Film articles, news and updates, have a look at our Facebook page