Film Review – Split (2017)

M. Night Shyamalan’s name was considered toxic just a few short years ago, but after the moderate sucess of The Visit, he seems to be regaining some traction in the film community.  Now he’s back at it again with another thriller entitled Split.  As always, the following review will be spoiler free so that you are spared of any possible spoilers of a patented Shyamalan ending.


Split stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy along with Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richarson, and Jessica Sula in supporting roles.  The film follows McAvoy as a man who has dissociative identity disorder and has been identified by his psychiatrist as having 23 different personalities that live inside him.  Things begin to escalate when the man abducts three girls led by Casey (Taylor-Joy).  Now Casey and the other two girls must attempt to escape or else feel the wrath of the man’s different personalities.

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image via Slash Film

Like many other moviegoers, I really enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan’s first three films: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.  He had such a subtle way of telling a well told story but then, in some, cases pulling the rug right out from under you for a great twist.  The first time I watched The Sixth Sense was quite possibly one of my favorite movie experiences I’ve ever had.  It was truly disheartening to see him start to put together some pretty unwatchable films right in a row (I still haven’t been able to get all the way through The Last Airbender).  We’ve seen such greatness in him before, so what exactly happened?

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image via Paste Magazine


Shortly after his run of great films to start his career, Shyamalan was coined the next Spielberg by many, which could have easily gone to his head, inflating his ego to unreasonably high heights.  You began to see this idea in his movies, especially by the tagline of The Happening which exclaimed:

We’ve Sensed It.  We’ve Seen The Signs.  Now, It’s Happening.

Anyone who references his other films so blatantly clearly wants to be at the center of the stage.

Yet here I am, still crossing my fingers that the great Shyamalan returns to us.

What causes this behavior?

I’d like to think that it’s because Shyamalan’s first few films were as thoughtful as they were impressive.  To this day I have yet to duplicate the feeling that movies such as Unbreakable or The Sixth Sense has given me.  Not that these are necessarily the best movies of all time (they most certainly are not), but they have such a different feel.  They’re truly one in a million (or two in a million for semantics sake).

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image via Business Insider

What I Liked

So here I was, crossing my fingers that Shyamalan follows up his middling success in The Visit with a great movie to add to his trio.  While this is a review for a Shyamalan so it will remain purposely vague so that all my readers may enjoy the film wholeheartedly, I will say this:


Welcome back, M. Night.

Split is certainly not a film for everyone, the film quickly weeds out possible audience members with it’s premise alone.  There are a few moments that can possibly make people check out of the movie completely, and I wouldn’t blame them for doing so, but this film challenges its audience in the best way by giving you a movie that is WAY out there.  I admire Shyamalan for having the guts to make a movie that is such a departure from any movie in recent memory, especially since he’s still walking on thin ice as he attempts a reclamation project.  Bold movies like Split are needed in Hollywood these days.

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image via Rolling Stone

What I Liked…Continued

It’s a real shame that Split is being released in January.  If this movie was released in a month like November or December, then James McAvoy would be nominated for an Oscar instantly.  Unfortunately, with all the politics and red tape involved in Oscar nominations, he’ll most likely get buried under other performances that we’ll see later this year.  McAvoy completely lets loose.  The trailers don’t even hint at the type of actions all his identities perform.  Every single one of his identities have different mannerisms, vocal patterns, and motivations.  A few times throughout the movie, he changes personalities right in front of our eyes and it feels incredibly organic.  McAvoy was certainly courageous, and we should all appreciate him for it, because this film doesn’t work without such audacity.

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image via YouTube

What I Didn’t Like

Split isn’t without its flaws, however.  The film a little narratively stilted.  We see the backstory of Anya Taylor-Joy’s character (who also puts in a marvelous performance and continues to become a star) in a way that feels a little misused.  As the story progresses, you understand why it’s needed for the movie.  However, it didn’t feel very natural and often times stopped the flow of the film dead in its tracks.  Split contains some “info-dump” scenes that are solely there to help explain what’s happening.  These scenes also betray the movie since Split as a whole puts a lot of faith in the audience to trust what is happening.


However, Split is still a great time at the theater.  Each part of the film builds, growing stronger than the last.  The final act alone helps you to forget the flaws of the movie.  This film rewards those who have stuck with Shyamalan through thick and thin and it is truly rewarding.  It’s genuinely creepy, intense, and sometimes strangely funny.

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image via Collider

Overall, Split is unlike any movie I’ve seen in a very long time.  You’ll most likely have to see it opening weekend so that it’s not spoiled for you!  Split gets an A-.

Welcome back, M. Night.  Welcome back, indeed.

Thanks so much for reading!  Have you seen Split?  Comment down below with your thoughts!

If you liked this article, please feel free to like, share, and subscribe!

What should I discuss next?  Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you!


Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society and the Washington DC Film Critics Association. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

30 Responses

  1. Top Movie says:

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the greatest sites on the
    net. I’m going to highly recommend this blog!

  2. I can’t wait to see this movie! As an aspiring psychologist I can be a little wary of movies that depict mental disorders, but this one looks really interesting. James McAvoy has done really well in all his movies so far, so I can’t wait to see him shake it up. I appreciate the no-spoilers policy!

    • MovieBabble says:

      I was a little apprehensive how they were going to take the mental disorder as well, but with how the movie ended up it made how they treated it completely okay, great even!

  3. tayahmay says:

    I went to see the movie Split and I loved it! The message was very powerful. “The broken are the more evolved.” Only a couple things tripped me up: the moment when Dennis placed the flowers down, and the ending. Though, I think the flowers were placed down to symbolize the death of Kevin’s body only having 23 identities and birth of the beast, and a symbol for the lives that the beast would soon take. I find it strange that the security guards didn’t investigate what was going on when the girl talked to them over the walkie talkie. Also, the fact that the train was empty was strange. But above all, I give this movie a thumbs up.

    • MovieBabble says:

      I think that’s one of those things where if you focus too hard on something you can break down a movie. They need to stage something to make the plot work! If security guards came down, maybe the movie is 30 minutes long lol

      • tayahmay says:

        Lol you make a good point. It wouldn’t be a movie anymore

      • MovieBabble says:

        I try to look at movies with a sense of plausible deniability because (for the most part) it is very staged except for the rare exception like last year’s Moonlight

      • tayahmay says:

        That’s a good way to analyze them. I’m taking an Introduction to Film class and it really puts the effort of planning into perspective. Even the camera angles say something about how staged everything really is. I haven’t seen Moonlight. I’ll have to check it out. Is it that good?

      • MovieBabble says:

        It’s definitely a “critics movie” in that it’s Oscar bait, but it feels like your a fly on the wall while watching a kid grow up. Super realistic!

      • tayahmay says:

        Awesome! I’m gonna watch it and let you know my thoughts.

  4. Jake says:

    I agree, James McAvoy gave a phenomenal performance. There is more than one scene where he switches between the personalities so flawlessly- i’m surprised he was able to keep the personas straight, especially with each identity having different accents and tones. I wasn’t too impressed with the film overall, and thought The Visit was a much better Shyamalan movie. It just wasn’t scary.

    Unrelated to Split, but, are you guys excited to see Rings? After watching Split, I need something much scarier to fill the void.

    • MovieBabble says:

      I don’t think Split was necessarily intended to be a horror movie but rather a thriller with some creepy elements. I think you’d like the movie more in that frame of mind! I’m a little skeptical of Rings since its gone through some delays, but I have my fingers crossed!

  5. Me and my dad read a review on this movie in the paper and thought it looked interesting, and we didn’t even recognize McAvoy in the photo they included (we’ve only seen him as Professor X lol). Also, thanks for the follow! If you don’t mind my asking, how’d you find my blog?

  6. Sam Ruck says:

    For those of us with a loved one who has d.i.d., it’s very discouraging that Hollywood is increasingly using this disorder as a cute plot twist. I may try to see this movie, but it’s tiring that the disorder continues to be used for the new super-killer narrative. Maybe that’s not where this movie goes, as I haven’t seen it, but the non-stop commercials I see for it make me guess that’s where it’s going. I have never felt unsafe living with my wife: all of her alters, and each one of them has been a wonderful addition to my family and marriage, though dealing with their pain and trauma is admittedly very taxing..

    • MovieBabble says:

      I was very nervous that the movie was going to mark all people with D.I.D. As monsters too. However I felt that they handled it okay for the story told. They go into that maybe people with the condition are more evolved and play with that throughout the story. That being said I have zero experience with D.I.D. And would never attempt to speak from an area of expertise. I was judging the movie from purely a piece of entertainment so if you feel offended then I sincerely apologize!

      • Sam Ruck says:

        No need to apologize. I can understand excitement if this kind of movie is your thing…it’s just unfortunate that this disorder is becoming increasingly used by Hollywood for thrillers and horrors. My wife refuses to ‘come out’ to more than me and our son and her counselor because of how Hollywood and the media caricature people with the disorder. The disorder is really NOT how it’s portrayed, though I have read other reviews that say the movie at least tried to give a more thorough treatment than is often given to the disorder. From our experience, once I helped the new girls heal and join our family, they have been a truly wonderful addition to our family and even my marriage…but it takes a lot of support that most sufferers never get, sadly.

      • MovieBabble says:

        You’re a lot stronger than me that’s for sure!

  7. I saw Split last night and actually wrote a review on it, too. Though I don’t hate Shyamalan’s less popular works as much, I agree that Split was fantastic. I, too, think McAvoy deserves Oscar consideration, but, like you said, that’s not likely to happen (sadly). We can hope…

  8. Woody says:

    I loved this movie! And yes M. Night is back. Great review my friend!

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