A comeback is a long road, especially when you’ve burned as many bridges as M. Night Shyamalan. The modest success of 2015’s The Visit got people excited for a return to form, but the near ten year stretch of atrocious films that preceded it hasn’t been forgotten. Shyamalan’s still got a lot to prove, making the apprehension that surrounds Split entirely justifiable.
Given his penchant for pulpy twists, the setup of Split throws up even more red flags. The overuse of characters with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder) have led to clichéd tropes even casual viewers will recognize, not to mention their often erroneous and damaging influence on the public’s perception of the disorder.
Split is clearly going to have James McAvoy’s Kevin do some pretty terrible things because of his DID, including kidnapping three teenage girls. While the film likely won’t do much to combat negative outlooks on mental disorders, the delight of these films often comes from watching a great actor navigate the extremes of the character. McAvoy looks like he went all in for the role, and he’s got a solid costar to play off of in The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy.
Shyamalan is again working with Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures, so expect a reasonable budget to keep the bar for success relatively low. The film also boasts cinematography from Mike Gioulakis (It Follows) and positive reactions from critics and audiences at the genre-based Fantastic Fest.
Considering how warmly people reacted to The Visit, it seems that audiences are rooting for Shyamalan to deliver great films once again. If Split can build on or even just maintain that success, Shyamalan will earn some breathing room for his long journey back to the top.
Split is directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson. It will be released in the U.S. and the U.K. on January 20th, 2017. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think Split will continue Shyamalan’s comeback? Let us know in the comments!
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