The Harbinger Online

“Split” Review

James McAvoy in "Split." (Universal Pictuers)

Photo Courtesy of MCT Campus 

I am a self-proclaimed thriller and horror movie enthusiast. Whenever there’s a new horror movie out I am the first one to buy tickets ahead of time to assure I get the perfect middle seat in the theater. I have watched most scary movies, from cheesy Netflix originals to old ones like “Silence of the Lambs.” “Split” was released by Universal under the Blumhouse label which is associated with movies like “Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge.”

“Split” is about a man who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, commonly known as multiple personalities disorder. It is a complex psychological condition that is likely caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual or emotional abuse), according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The movie starts out with three girls who are kidnapped after a birthday party by a man named Dennis in a buttoned up shirt. British actor James McAvoy plays Dennis – a man obsessed with cleanliness and order – and plays the the other 23 personalities residing in his body.

The 23 personalities are drastically different from each other. Some are male, some are female, some are children, some are straight and some are gay. McAvoy does a thorough job at showing the different personalities and really making each one come to life. As he switches identities the accents change and so do the outfits he wears. The audience doesn’t get confused as to which identity is as he smoothly transitions characters between scenes.

One of the three teen girls who are kidnapped, Casey-played by Anya Taylor-Joy is singled out. There are flashbacks to a hunting trip that Casey went on as a 5-year-old with her uncle and father. I interpreted this at first as Casey having some sense of survival motivation, but later in the movie I realized these scenes have a much darker purpose. Casey is a very strong willed girl who made me want to fight for her. She is the one who became close with the identities and strived the hardest to make it out alive.

Dennis and the other 22 identities consult with a therapist, Dr. Fletcher, who lives alone in a lavish rowhouse. Barry, the gay identity, sees Dr. Fletcher the most. Fletcher’s role is to explain what the disorder is as she works with patients. This foreshadows the climax with her theories about her patient. Fletcher also provides some comfort in the movie as she is kind and speaks gently to her patient Barry.

Throughout the entire movie I was awaiting what McAvoy would do with the girls. The place where the girls are kept matches the mood perfectly. It is dark and mysterious with an open ceiling with pipes showing. In the room the girls are kept in, there is a small crack in which they can see out of. This gives the movie a suspenseful feeling as the girls can see different identities coming toward their room based on different clothing. The movie turns out to be very dark as it focuses on the abuse of the children. The suspense of each identity kept me very entranced on waiting for the next scene to play out.

There are several twists along the way where my whole body was tense watching what was to come next. The plot kept me wanting more as each identity changed and I saw each one of them. The actor lived up to my expectations and all played roles that added to the film in a positive way. This movie was definitely one of my more favorite horror movies as it kept me asking questions and aching to find out whether or not the girls would come out alive.

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