‘Split’: M. Night Shyamalan’s New Movie Might Be Pretty Good


I’m gonna nut up and say it; I like M. Night Shyamalan. I understand it’s becomes quite fashionable to shit on him and I understand why; his films can become hokey and sentimental and over time they’ve become contingent on that characteristic ‘twist ending’ that’s come to define his work.

I honestly think the success of The Sixth Sense proved a handicap to his development; pigeonholing him as the ‘director with the mindblowing endings, bro’. To that end, you can imagine the kind of pressure to oblige that kind of expectation.

Additionally, he’s always cited Spielberg as a hero of his and you can see that in his work, with characters and stories inspired by modern parables and 80’s genre films. It’s the kind of thing that works really well if done properly *cough* Stranger Things *cou8gh*, but comes across as cheesy, implausible and irrelevant otherwise. And Mr Shyamalan’s work often finds itself achieving the latter outcome.

So it comes with no small amount of surprise to hear that the secret screening of his latest film ‘Split’ has been met with largely positive reactions and a serious amount of hype. The psychological horror starring James MacAvoy as an unhinged kidnapper suffering from severe multiple personality disorder was met with genuinely excited press, with the twittersphere hosting such comments as “he’s regained his bearings”, “don’t let anyone spoil the last minute of Split for you” and “best Shyamalan film since Signs”. Granted the film wasn’t universally appreciated and it’s given enough ammo to his detractors to ramp up the hate-hype. It’ll take more than one half decent film to upend a litany of missteps this past decade.

I still like him, though. For all the interminable dross that comes out of Hollywood and its congenital intolerance of any kind of creative risk, M.Night’s success gives him the freedom to just…make what he likes. He’s smart enough to make an easy cash grab and yet, he chooses to just make what he likes. And he likes to make weird shit.

A crippled comic book fan tracks down a security guard to convince him he’s actually invulnerable? A priest who questions his faith is plagued by crop circles and alien intruders in the dead of night? A grieving widower finds a woman claiming to be water nymph in the community pool? For Hollywood, this is pretty trippy stuff to greenlight.

How good the films are is obviously up for debate; the point is, he’s the spice that makes or breaks the meal. He’s the RNG’er, the Hail-Mary, the wildcard. He’s a unique and interesting voice in a chorus of humming blandness. And I believe that’s worth supporting, even if said voice hits a bum note now and again.

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