Watching the new trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film Split, trailer below, I’ve never hoped more that a film was a metaphor for a director’s career. Split stars James McAvoy as a man, Kevin, who kidnaps three teenaged girls, trapping them in his underground lair and appearing to them as different personalities. The girls, played by Haley Lu Richardson, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Jessica Sula, try to deduce the reason they’ve been taken and what greater plans Kevin, or one of his other iterations, has for them. Could it be that after a split-personality career of great and terrible horror films, M. Night Shyamalan has found a new way that works?
Complete with sage, older, psychiatrist giving us insight into Kevin’s 23 different personalities, and showcasing what certainly looks like a challenging but fun role for James McAvoy, this trailer has a distinctly psychological thriller feel with a smidge of frightening weirdness. Mention of “the Beast” in the trailer — another of Kevin’s personalities or some other horror? — certainly gives it that horror film edge. This mixing of genres feels . A not-so straightforward kidnap tale with mysterious darker elements afoot.
If there’s anything we can rely on from Shyamalan, it’s to never give us all the details. He’s built a career on twists, reversals, and fake-outs. Unfortunately they’ve only worked half the time. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village were arguably Shyamalan’s hey-day (and yes, I know, The Village is a divisive film among Shyamalan fans, but this devotee loved it). Lady in the Water and The Happening were critically panned and universally hated and his foray into blockbusters left us wanting as well. We won’t .
But then there was . Many groaned at the thought of Shyamalan attempting a found footage film; could it be another cheap attempt at reviving his horror career? Amazingly, the film is good. Really good. It’s scary, funny, and certainly doesn’t feel like every other found footage film. After The Visit, a small bit of that original adoration I had for Shyamalan returned and it’s enough to make me want to see Split (plus James McAvoy as a 9-year-old kid named Hedwig? Yes!).
But let’s hope whatever twist is most certainly in store for us in this new film reveals a more mature Shyamalan. A version of him who perhaps learned the lessons of his early career and stops trying so hard to blow our minds the way The Sixth Sense did.
If The Visit and now Split are the introduction to a new side of Shyamalan, count me in. We’re all entitled to personal growth…and a little bit of crazy.
After seeing the trailer, will you go to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split when it hits theaters January 20, 2017?
MP Staff Writer, lover of all things fantastical and spooky. “Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.” – Ferris Bueller