Split marked quite a comeback for a director whose name has lately been synonymous with huge disappointments. But by contrast, Split is a slick, thrilling superhero movie, and one of Shyamalan’s best in years. It’s still making waves at the box office and, riding off its success, the director already has a sequel planned that’s actually more like the third in a trilogy. If you haven’s seen Split yet, be aware that there are pretty major SPOILERS for the end of the movie from here on out.
When M. Night Shyamalan’s Split exceeded expectations and became the first big hit of 2017, box office prognosticators wondered if this was the result of a killer marketing campaign or if audiences actually liked the movie. The second weekend made it definitive: Split’s small drop-off indicated positive buzz and strong word-of-mouth, both of which allowed the film to remain on top of the charts for the third weekend in a row, narrowly edging out all newcomers, specifically Rings.
Last week, Split had a huge opening and everyone noted that M. Night Shyamalan was unquestionably back. But now, in week two, it feels a little more official. The second weekend saw the film holding onto its spot at the top of the box office charts, but it also did so while dropping a percentage most movies would kill for. In other words, people like Split and are telling their friends to go see it.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is a strange kind of superhero movie of its own. James McAvoy’s character has a multiple personality disorder that manifests itself like a superpower, more like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing than how multiple personalities work in the real world. But this isn’t the director’s first foray into the superhero movie realm — and it’s not the last. Shyamalan announced that after Split, his next movie is going to be a sequel to his 2000 superhero flick Unbreakable. (This post contains some SPOILERS for Split, so if you don’t want those, then you’d better… split.)
Is it safe to say that M. Night Shyamalan is back? He got his foot in the door a few years ago when The Visit opened to $25 million and went on to make $65 million against a budget of only $5 million, but with the release of Split, he’s officially sitting on the couch, eating your chips and drinking your beer. However, the same could not be said for xXx: Return of Xander Cage, which opened to more lackluster numbers.
Anya Taylor-Joy has only starred in four feature films, all of which opened within the past year, and already she’s become one of the most exciting young actors in the industry. She brought a haunting innocence to Robert Eggers’ stunning debut The Witch, she wreaked havoc in last fall’s Morgan, played Barack Obama’s college girlfriend in Barry, and now she stars opposite James McAvoy (or more like nine James McAvoys) in the latest M. Night Shyamalan mind-bending thriller.
The Visit was a welcome, wonderfully kooky return to smaller, simpler genre-bending fare for M. Night Shyamalan, who’s back this year with yet another effective thriller: Split, in which James McAvoy gives a remarkable performance (or 23) as a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder. One of those identities kidnaps three young women, including one (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) whose ability to empathize with McAvoy puts her in a rather unique position.
The Visit was a fun, kooky and simple little horror flick that reminded audiences that M. Night Shyamalan still has the capacity to surprise and entertain us — but more than anything, it inspired optimism with the promise of more good things to come. Shyamalan has fully delivered on that promise with Split, an incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking thriller. Although occasionally heavy-handed, Shyamalan’s latest is his most considerate and effective film in years, with a startling emotional core.
Our ongoing celebration of the best from the world of film in 2016 continues with our ranking of the finest movie posters of the year. In the gallery above you’ll see our picks for the 25 best. They range from massive hits to to tiny indie releases; we decided not to limit our list just to huge commercial successes. We don’t determine a movie’s quality by its box office totals. Why should we determine a poster’s quality that way?
M. Night Shyamalan’s Split came as a welcome surprise when it debuted unannounced as the secret screening at last month’s Fantastic Fest, delighting audiences with a daring turn from James McAvoy (and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy and James McAvoy) as a mental patient harboring 23 distinct personalities in his head. Our own Britt Hayes was on the scene and reported back with a resoundingly positive review naming the new film as Shyamalan’s best in years. (Not an especially high bar, admittedly, but praise is praise.)