SPLIT Review - Raw Terror, A Fierce Edge of Your Seat Thriller

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SPLIT, from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, presents a shocking, terror speed trip into the mind and manifestation of a schizophrenic, as he acts on the commands from the twenty-four personalities that fight for control of his life and existence.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamaian, SPLIT stars James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzy Coffey, and Brad William Henke.

SPLIT opens at the mall and the end of a birthday party. The cool girls, Claire, played by Haley Lu Richardson and Marcia, played by Jessica Sula, are explaining the real reason behind the charitable invitation of Casey, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, the high school loner. As she is not an actual friend, she was invited so they could feel as if they have done something good.

As the party ends, Casey, is still waiting for her ride. Claire’s father offers to drive everyone home. No one gets left behind on his watch. Claire and Marcia pile in the back seat, giggling over nothing and our troubled loner, Casey, in the front when she looks in the rear view and sees the packages, Claire’s father had carried, strewn on the ground, and simultaneously hears the driver side door close.

Claire stops mid-sentence and explains “Mister, I think you have the wrong car” when the stranger sprays the two with a liquid that induces black out. Our loner looks over in terror as the stranger, who we have yet to formally meet, played by James McAvoy, and attempts to jump out of the car when he grabs her and she too is put under.

They wake in a dungeon, the three are alive, terrified, and alone, when suddenly our loner, Casey, obviously not a child of affluence finds coping skills the two girls of privilege lack.

As SPLIT progresses, we meet the different personalities that possess Kevin, the every-man, the fashion designer, a proper English female matron, and a nine-year-old who befriends our girls. The personalities are known fully to only one person.

Kevin, the host for these personalities, meets regularly with his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley, who is fully aware of each of the personalities and at times, the fight or flight of one drives the others to act. In Kevin’s case, the personalities fight each other for allegiance and dominance.

Dr. Fletcher’s career, at this point has become defined by this fascinating case which her findings have become so intriguing to the psychiatric community that she presents evidence of her theories of the ability of a person with multiple personalities to alter their physicality based on the needs of the personality surfacing. Everyone seems deeply concerned what Kevin can become if he fully realizes this power.

As the kidnapping and hostage days are playing out with attempts by the girls to escape and punishments after they are caught, the back stories are being interwoven as the girls meet some of the other personalities, all intriguing and none more so than the nine-year-old Hedwig, who sees the girls as friends, and as a nine-year-old boy sees life differently.

He wants the approval of Casey, our loner and the only hostage who doesn’t make the blatant attempt to escape.

As the days pass the fear increases and Kevin’s dominating personality makes decisions to separate the girls until only, Casey is left alone.

Casey, throughout this time is having flashes of her childhood memories, remembering her dad, how they would go camping, and then the memories turn darker as her Uncle John, played by Brad William Henke becomes her guardian after her father dies. 

To say simply, I enjoyed this film, is too mild for the wild ride M. Night Shyamaian takes the audience on. SPLIT is an aggressive, in your face, bombshell, and a horror nightmare. The performances, the writing, and direction all on point. SPLIT is so deeply intriguing deviling into the rational aspects of modern day multiple personality disorder as SPLIT is also a contemporary film.

The potency and intrigue of a genuine schizophrenia meets the raw terror and fear of the unknown as each personality takes the viewer deeper into the mind of a very disturb, dangerous and uniquely functional and profoundly mentally ill man.

Having seen SPLIT at the 2016 AFI Film Festival play to a full house at midnight, was a testament to its explosive impact. More so the screening ended at about 1:00AM and the audience remained for the post screening conversation. SPLIT is raw terror.

James McAvoy is brilliant. Betty Buckley and Anya Taylor-Joy give notable, striking, and captivating performances opposite the powerhouse explosion McAvoy delivers.

Strap in as SPLIT takes you on an emotional roller coaster thrill ride that doesn’t stop. The cast delivers, the story is relative, believable, alarming, amazing and pulled from the horror headlines. SPLIT begins with every person’s nightmare o and doesn’t stop, building toward an incredible climactic unbelievable ending.

SPLIT is a four star, tour de force, performance driven contemporary horror film.

SPLIT opens January 20, 2017. See this film.

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