Split

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Rated Greg’s Top 5 Movie Twists

  1. The Prestige
  2. The Usual Suspects
  3. Seven
  4. Menace II Society
  5. Fight Club

Unlike big action movies or awards contenders, I tend to wait until horror films become available for home viewing before seeing them.  But upon hearing that there’s a big twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s well reviewed Split, I decided to see it in the theater for fear of inevitably stumbling across a spoiler on the internet.  And I’ll admit that when it comes to spoilers I’m unreasonably paranoid, avoiding movie trailers when possible and even occasionally skipping the “next on” segments in certain rose-centric TV shows.  I can’t help it.  Anyways don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything.  I can confirm that a reveal occurs but I wouldn’t classify it anywhere near a big twist, simply more of a “wink.”  If you accidentally come across it beforehand it won’t take much away from the experience (as opposed to say…. a movie like The Sixth Sense, which one of my jerk best friends ruined for me in 9th grade, eat shit Willie).

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If 2015’s The Visit proved anything it’s that Shyamalan was still a crafty veteran despite the decade long slump, capable of turning in a decent film the same way a relief pitcher could enter the game in a dire situation and garner a much needed ground ball out.  He wasn’t the same flame-throwing superstar that broke into Hollywood in ’99, but there was still something there, a filmmaker with tricks up his sleeve, ever so slightly hinting at a comeback.  Well, Shyamalan’s follow up to The Visit is this month’s Split…… and I have to say his fastball is back baby!  You remember that crazy Roger Clemens Astros season where he inexplicably won the Cy Young as a 42 year old?  I feel like that is Shyamalan’s Split.  It’s ridiculous, a little sketchy, and I don’t know how long this will last, but sure what the hell I’ll enjoy the ride.

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Split is anchored by an AMAZING, didn’t know he had it in him, performance from James McAvoy.  I only really know McAvoy traditionally as a brooding, one-dimensional protagonist, but in this Shyamalan grants him the opportunity to exhibit several different layers, quite literally.  The Irishman plays Kevin, a man suffering from a severe case of multiple personality disorder, who abducts three high school girls at the onset of the movie and traps them in his lair of sorts.  I know, that premise doesn’t really sound like a hoot but trust me, the two hours are more entertaining than scary.  McAvoy is so freaking good I can’t get over it, transitioning from different identities, accents, and even postures frame by frame.  There’s no way the Oscars would take him seriously, but I wouldn’t put it past the Golden Globes to finagle a nomination for McAvoy into their ballot, outside the box thinkers that they are.  Apparently Joaquin Phoenix was initially attached to this role, which I can totally see, but James was more than up to the task.

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Incredible as McAvoy’s performance may be, boy does this film have some issues.  First off the third act falls off the rails a bit, but that tends to happen in horror films so I won’t dig too deep into that.  More importantly, the themes presented throughout the movie about the treatment of women could be interpreted as anywhere between simply dated to extremely irresponsible, depending on who you ask.  It is so insane to me that Split is deemed to be suitable for a 13 year old, but films like Moonlight or Manchester By The Sea get an R rating just because they contain multiple F bombs.  In what world does that make sense?  Dear Mr. President, could you please leave the EPA be for now and take on the MPAA?  That’s a movement I can get behind.

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I can’t get more into this without spoiling anything, but I would like to make note that the girls are also really good in this movie.  Anya Taylor-Joy in particular is really having a moment right now.  The twenty year old burst onto the scene as the lead in last year’s The Witch, followed that up to play Barack Obama’s college girlfriend in Netflix’s Barry, and is now in the #1 movie in America.  Haley Lu Richardson, who you may recognize from The Edge of Seventeen, holds her own as well.  Grade: B+

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