Split was definitely a phenomenal success back in 2016. This is all thanks to the people behind the movie including, of course, the talented M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan wrote, directed, and produced (along with Jason Blum and Marc Bienstock) the movie, along with the other two films in its franchise.
Split premiered first at Fantastic Fest back on September 26, 2016. Under Universal Pictures, it was released on January 20 the next year in American theaters. The film showcases topnotch performances by notable actors including James McAvoy who plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, the primary character in this masterpiece. Joining him are Anya Taylor Joy who plays Casey Cooke, Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher, Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit, Jessica Sula as Marcia, Brad William Henke as John, and so much more. The movie earned McAvoy a Best Actor award from the San Diego Film Critics Society, as well as a Villain of the Year award from Seattle Film Critics Society with his portrayal as ‘Dennis and the Horde’. The movie itself was nominated in plenty of awards including the Empire Awards for Best Horror film and Saturn Awards for Best Thriller film.
An Unbreakable Installment
This Shyamalan film was initially a standalone film. However, later on, it was considered a standalone sequel to the said director’s Unbreakable film which was released way back in 2000. The sequel film stars Bruce Willis as David Dunn as well as Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass. The reveal was slow, considering they waited until the end to show Dunn’s character. Dunn’s appearance officially linked both movies. Split is the second movie in the Unbreakable trilogy. Like its preceding film, it also garnered plenty of positive reviews from fans and film critics. This is especially so with regards to McAvoy’s breathtaking performance.
Despite the positive reviews though, a slight controversy still looms above this film. Some critics accuse the movie of the ‘stigmatization’ of mental illnesses. Numerous mental health experts even claim that movies like Split harm those people suffering from conditions such as dissociative identity disorder. Despite many protests, the film still grossed over $300 million. This is quite a big feat as the production was only given a budget of $9 million.
What the Film Is About
The story basically starts with Anya Taylor Joy’s character Casey Cooke. For years, her uncle John – her legal guardian after her dad died of a heart attack – has been sexually abusing her. After attending a party she received a pity invite to, her classmate Claire offers her a ride home, along with her other friend Marcia. Unbeknownst to them, Claire’s dad has been knocked unconscious by Kevin Crumb. He then proceeds to kidnap Casey, Claire, and Marcia.
Kevin basically suffers from a mental illness called ‘dissociative personality disorder’. His disorder made Kevin the host to 23 identified personalities. He is getting help from psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher. As time passes, Dr. Fletcher has encountered Kevin’s different personalities including a guy named ‘Dennis’, a woman named ‘Patricia’, and a 9-year-old called ‘Hedwig’. Lately, a ‘Barry’ has been springing around, not letting Dennis take over. This Barry is tired of Dennis’ bothering trait of objectifying underage girls. Patricia is also an undesirable personality. The three, specifically Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig, worships one more personality called ‘The Beast’. Their plan is to unleash it as Kevin’s 24th personality.
Later on, the girls discover Kevin’s ‘dissociative personality disorder’. They then try to use it to their advantage. As each of the girls attempts to escape from their place of imprisonment, Kevin’s different personas would often come to catch them. Casey also tries to befriend the 9-year-old Hedwig whom she asks for help later in order to escape but to no avail.
As Dr. Fletcher tries to figure out Kevin’s predicament, she searches the place he’s been staying. This ultimately leads her to find the kidnapped girls. Dennis soon finds her though, who consequently sedates and imprisons her.
Afterward, Dennis boards a train, finally letting ‘The Beast’ manifest itself. This persona changes his physique significantly, giving him superhuman strength and abilities. Before going back to kill Dr. Fletcher and the girls, the psychiatrist was able to write Kevin’s full name on a piece of paper. The underlying hint here is that by calling his full name, the other personas disappear and Kevin regains his original personality.
Casey escapes but Dr. Fletcher, unfortunately, does not make it. To make matters worse, she finds out that Marcia has been devoured. She then witnesses Claire suffering from the same fate. Casey attempts to run away from him, but he proves to be far superior with his superhuman abilities. He then corners Casey in an underground tunnel. However, he stops in his tracks upon seeing the scars on her wrists, a simple proof of Casey’s self-harming behavior. The Beast then decides to let her live as his primary plan was to eradicate those people who never knew suffering and pain. He identifies Casey as being “pure”, spares her, and then sets out.
Casey is then rescued where she hesitates to go back home with her uncle. Later on, we find Patricia, Dennis, and Hedwig planning to change the world with The Beast’s power.
The ending shows David Dunn’s character in a diner mentioning Mr. Glass. Dunn’s appearance solidifies the idea that Split is indeed the Unbreakable sequel.