DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SPLIT (director/writer: M. Night Shyamalan; cinematographer: Mike Gioulakis; editor: Luke Franco Ciarrocchi; music: West Dylan Thordson; cast: James McAvoy (Dennis / Patricia / Hedwig / The Beast / Kevin Wendell Crumb / Barry / Orwell / Jade ), Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey Cooke), Betty Buckley (Dr. Karen Fletcher), Jessica Sula (Marcia), Haley Lu Richardson (Claire Benoit), M. Night Shyamalan (Jai, Hooters Lover), Brad William Henke (Uncle John), Sebastian Arcelus (Casey's Father), Neal Huff (; Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock; Universal; 2016)

"Hitchcock created a masterpiece using the same subject matter to create Psycho, but Shyamalan is only a so-so director and just comes up with an unpleasant and pointless kidnapping thriller."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Pure schlock. Director-writer M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"/"The Visit") tries to get into the head of the character Kevin played by the Scottish actor James McAvoy, who has what's called in mental illness jargon a dissociative identity disorder (DID). This means he has a multiple personality disorder and in the story acts out around eight of his 23 different personalities, such as an effete fashion designer and an obsessive-compulsive control freak. There's also a 24th emerging persona.

Hitchcock created a masterpiece using the same subject matter to create Psycho, but
Shyamalan is only a so-so director and just comes up with an unpleasant and pointless kidnapping thriller.

The three teenage schoolgirls, the popular
Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), and the brooding outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), are abducted in the car of Claire's father (Neal Huff) after attending a school birthday party. Mr. Benoit's drugged and left in the parking lot, while the three girls are taken to an underground bunker in an unknown destination in Philadelphia.

The sicko's misguided psychiatrist is Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who gives him unconditional love with her special treatment and naively thinks she
is getting through to all his personas and incredulously thinks that DID signals some kind of supernatural human evolution.

Meanwhile the girls try to survive, not knowing what to expect from their weirdo captor who threateningly engages them in his many different personas.

The
girls-in-peril plot, even with a twist ending (part of the director's usual supernatural trick bag), is weak and unsatisfactory. But if you're interested in watching a tour de force acting performance, you get one from McAvoy.

REVIEWED ON 1/21/2017       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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