M. Night Shyamalan’s name on the top of the bill automatically triggers groans. This is nothing new, but unfortunate. It sucks because he’s a master of visual storytelling.
I’m always fascinated with his recurring motifs; the use of leaves, the color yellow, foliage, and the autumn season. The significance of autumn is it’s a season that heralds the darker, dreary, and more sinister winters we tend to experience in the northeast*.
In his better films, M. Night is a wizard with the camera. The way he toys with the audiences psyche is Hitchcock-ian in style and execution.
The majority of the time the issue is with the scripts he writes, and even then it’s really his brand of twists that get him the most flack… the twist to “The Village” and “Unbreakable” (<–God i hated that film) were just awful.
This all brings us to “Split.” I have to admit, it was a pretty solid offering, and might win M.Night back some fans. It’s my third favorite film of his, behind “Signs” and “The Sixth Sense.” (God i hated “Unbreakable.”)
I don’t have too many gripes. Some might not jibe with the film’s pacing. Though the style is starting make a comeback on the mainstream level (think Stranger Things and Cloverfield Lane), M. Night has always been a product of old school filmmaking that takes pride in the slow burn that our MTV generation can find painstaking at best. They could’ve cut the fat at some parts but “slow burn” is the name of the game with psychological thrillers.
Truth be told, seeing it for James Mcavoy’s acting is reason enough. He played the SHIT out of this role and every personality he encompassed. It would be no surprise if the studio is banking on this factor. As of this writing it’s won the weekend box office, and for a subset it possibly has the replay value and “water cooler” factor to be in the top two next weekend.
Played right, M.Night might’ve carved an interesting niche in a genre that’s been over saturated in recent years. What genre? You have to see the film to find out.
Dare I say, between that first season of Wayward Pines and “Split”, I’m interested in what M. Night has coming down the pike. (<– Can’t believe I just wrote that… Oh and “Unbreakable” sucked)
*Most of his flicks are shot in or not too far from Philly