Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan enjoyed something of a career rebound with his 2015 film; the low-budgeted and found-footage-style horror/thriller, The Visit. Shyamalan is sticking with the intimate and character-focused approach of The Visit with his next directorial effort, titled Split. The latter movie stars James McAvoy as Kevin, a man who appears to have an extreme case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (more popularly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder) – prompting him to kidnap three teenage girls, in order to participate in what the film’s marketing suggests is some type of bizarre ritual meant to bring out his most terrible (and transformative) personality yet.
Moviegoers should know better than to take the premise for any Shymalan film at face-value by now, of course. The second trailer for Split (which Universal Pictures has now released online – see above) contains new footage from the film but avoids including anything too revealing – lest The Sixth Sense, Signs and
The Last Airbender director’s latest deceitful hand of cards be shown too soon.
The new Split trailer focuses in particular on the scenes between Kevin and his therapist Dr. Fletcher; the latter being played by Betty Buckley, who (in)famously played the lemonade-drinking Mrs. Jones in Shyamalan’s The Happening. Other cast members highlighted in the new trailer include this year’s The Witch and Morgan breakout star, Anya Taylor-Joy as one of the young women kidnapped by Kevin. (That’s assuming the three teen girls are real people and not “personalities” within Kevin’s mind or something to that effect.)
Shymalan’s films (even the not-so-good ones) are pretty much always parables that have more going on below their surfaces; be they a Twilight Zone and/or Black Mirror-style narrative that examines how people cope with living in fear in the post-9/11 world (see The Village) or a story about a family whose deep emotional/psychological wounds have yet to be healed in full (see The Visit). Early word of mouth among the critics who caught Split at a special early screening during the 2016 Fantastic Fest is positive and indicates that Split is ultimately a horror/thriller allegory like Shyamalan’s past work; The Visit in particular.
Those who weren’t so hot on The Visit tend to argue that the film’s kitschy tone doesn’t match up well with its greater storytelling ambitions. Most early reviews Split have fallen on the positive side of the fence, but some have noted that the way Shymalan’s latest horror/thriller handles sensitive topics such as Dissociative Identity Disorder might prompt similar criticisms to those that The Visit faced. Those same reviews also indicate that the movie’s big twist(s?) that its trailers are keeping under-wraps is a good one – though the general moviegoing public will get the final say on that matter.
Source: Universal Pictures
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