My Two Cents: M. Knight Shyamalan’s SPLIT

shyamalan-split

Split

Directed and written by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley

2017 Blinding Edge Pictures, Blumhouse Productions

When you go to see an M. Night Shyamalan film, it’s like a roll of the dice. His first few films were a safe bet. Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and to an extent, Signs, are all good films. Lady in the Water and The Happening, not so great. His second to last release, The Visit, was decent enough that I was looking forward to seeing M. Knight’s latest; Split. The trailers looked good and the concept plays well as a horror/thriller.

Split is the story of Barry, a man whom has twenty-three separate personalities. The majority of harmless, but a few of the personas have malicious intentions. The movie begins with three young women being abducted, and the story unfolds from there. We soon learn the background stories of Barry’s many personalities, and one of the captives, Casey Cooke. There is really not much more I can speak of without ruining plot twists. However, I will say that Split contains one of Shyamalan’s signature twist endings which features a familiar face, and perhaps sets up a possible sequel for at least one of M. Night’s films.

All in all, Split is enjoyable and has enough suspense and story to keep the viewer interested. James McAvoy portrays Barry. He does an amazing job playing essentially a half dozen characters. Anya Taylor-Joy, who shined in last years The Witch, shines again as the captive with a past just as dark as her captor. The pacing is great and the story translates well on the screen. I do, however, have a couple of things that bother me about the film. We only get to see one third of the personalities that inhabit Barry’s brain. I think it would have been interesting to see a glimpse of each of the twenty-three psyches. I do understand that the director needs time for character development, but just a peek would have been nice. I also thought the film lacked violence. Not because I am a savage, but because it would have lent nicely to the mystique of one of Barry’s personas (for sake of spoiling, I cannot say which). A little more violence would also have intensified the already satisfying suspense.

To recap, the high points are the performances of James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. They dominate the screen, and their characters have compelling stories. The Shyamalanian twist at the end is also worth the watch. This is even more true if you are a fan of his movies, as it ties two of his stories together. Split is not The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable (both amazing films), but it is a million miles better than the happening. In a time (January and February) when crappy films are released and usually die, Split stands out and will hopefully succeed.

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 21 – The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

31 Days of Halloween – Day 21

The Cabin in the Woods (directed by Drew Goddard, 2012) Once in a while, you come across a movie that thinks outside the box. Horror movies seem to go in genre waves. Whatever is in vogue that particular cycle seems to get beaten to death by Hollywood. Found footage was popular for a while. Vampires have their turn. Slashers get a go. Anything that movie producers throw against the wall, and sticks, is the new flavor of the month. The Cabin in the Woods starts off like any ordinary horror, but takes some big swerves of course through out, and the results are one of the most original films of the genre. I will not go into plot details, because if you have not seen the film, I do not want to spoil it. Five friends set off to spend the weekend in a family cabin. Sound familiar? That’s where the familiarity end. Drew Goddard (writer for World War Z and Cloverfield) and Joss Whedon (TV’s Firefly and Marvel’s The Avengers) wrote the story, while Goddard directed. What they have created is a highly entertaining film, which blends horror and comedy, with enough plot twists to keep you engaged from start to finish. The most recognizable faces are Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Bradley Whitford (TV’s Transparent), and the brilliant Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers). The interaction between Whitford and Jenkins is witty and one of the best parts of the film. I was recommended to see this by a friend, and I am glad I took his advice. The Cabin in the Woods is one of my favorites from the last five years. It reminds me of how great I thought the original Evil Dead was when I first saw it. If you want some Halloween scares with substance, watch The Cabin in the Woods. You will not be disappointed.

IMG_0678

Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods

T.