James McAvoy in 'Split'
James McAvoy in 'Split'

A; Horror/Thriller
Director: Manoj Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley

Manoj Night Shyamalan had a fantastic debut with the critically acclaimed 'The Sixth Sense' followed by positively received movies like'Unbreakable' and 'Signs'. But the years after that were not very kind to him. 'Lady In The Water', 'The Village', 'The Happening', 'After Earth' and the worst of the lot, 'The Last Airbender' were not in the same league, leave alone the same page. So not much was being expected from him. We in India though, still hope he can come good again. 'Split' his latest, which follows close on the heels of the decently received 'The Visit,' may not be his best effort yet but it certainly shows us signs that he is getting back into the groove.

This psychological thriller opens with the abduction of three teenagers following a birthday party. Two of them, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), are popular girls. The third, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), is an outsider. Their kidnapper (James McAvoy) suffers from a severe case of split personality disorder with 23 distinct personas emerging. But we don't really understand why he chose these three girls as his victims.

The narrative is cuts away one too many times, the tension is not pervasive and there's no ending as such. Split hopes to parcel out into a franchise and that's obvious from the unfinished ending sequence.

The film is not scary either. While Shyamalan's twist here references X men in a much more simplistic manner, it does nothing to make the ensuing psycho-drama more believable. The therapist thinks she is onto a new discovery while ignoring the lethality of the symptoms, The captive has hallucinations of her own traumatic past and McAvoy's final personality change only makes things seem even more ridiculous. McAvoy's efficient performance and impressive presence are the only reasons to endure this movie. Shyamalan has definitely not come out of the woods yet!