Split is the story of three teenage girls kidnapped by a dangerous psychopath with multiple personalities. Some of the personalities are kind, some stupid and some dangerous. All of the personalities are afraid of “the monster” which will be unleashed on the girls.
James McAvoy gives a masterful performance as the kidnapper, who becomes increasingly strange and dangerous as the film progresses. Intertwined with the classic horror elements, are themes of mystery and psychological drama.
The three girls kidnapped come from a privileged suburban background, and are completely unprepared for the violence and degradation they are suddenly thrust into. Their natural tendency is to simply freeze from panic. This is, in fact, the normal response when everyday people are confronted with unexpected violence. Jessica Sula and Haley Lu Richardson are perfect as two young women trying to cope with a situation beyond their comprehension.
Anya Taylor-Joy plays Casey Cooke, the third kidnap victim. Her background is far different from the other girls. She has had a childhood of sexual abuse, and holds a deep inner shame that she never fought back. Casey is determined that this time will be different. Anya Taylor-Joy is a fantastic actor, and we noted her skills when she starred in The Witch.
Izzie Coffey plays 6 year old Casey. In flashbacks we see what she was subjected to, and understand why the teenage Casey is considered “strange” by the other girls. Her damaged childhood is a key to the plot of the film. As a little girl, Casey was far too small to fight back. Can the teenage Casey now summon the strength and the will?
Betty Buckley is Psychiatrist Karen Fletcher who has been treating the multiple personalities of the kidnapper for years. So far, he has been able to successfully hide the violent and evil parts of himself from her. However, she knows there is something she is just not seeing. Something about “the monster”
Director M. Night Shyamalan has created a terrific horror film, with less gore and more mystery than most films of the genre. It is exciting throughout, with a moving subtext touching on the issue of female vulnerability in a male-dominated world.