Split is the story of what happens when a man diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and 23 distinct personalities kidnaps three teenagers. It is an M. Night Shyamalan movie that isn’t completely terrible if you can ignore the stigmatization of mental health problems, biology, and basically most of what is known about DID. It – mostly – doesn’t have the signature dramatic reversal that became so annoyingly predictable. James McAvoy gives a brilliant performance as do all three teenage girls, especially Anya Taylor-Joy.
While it was on the screen, I found the movie engaging but as soon as I sat down to write about it, I started having massive problems with it. The biggest being that despite the terrible-to-the-point-of-offensive job it does depicting mental illness and specifically DID, it’s ultimately forgettable. There’s no real story there. Everyone who lives leaves more or less the same way they came in. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The movie shies away from the really interesting bits and focuses instead on the generic. It gets to the point where it is holding the bleeding heart in its hand about to lift it Simba-like for all to see, then drops it shouting “OO! Shiny!”. And ultimately it’s just very disappointing. This was a movie with such potential to be memorable and really fucking scary if told differently. As it is, it’s just another in a long line of horror movies using DID as a gimmick. It’s watchable if you don’t have triggering issues about mental health and self-harm, but that’s the best that I can say about it.