Split does just enough to cover up some more of its major flaws without being defined by them
There is currently a huge push for awareness of mental health issues in society, especially across the internet. Although split doesn’t exactly help the cause, it manages to ask questions, albeit on the side of the slightly ridiculous, about how cable we are as humans. There is definitely unexplored territory to be revealed and Split is far enough into its own world to allow for its slightly risqué attitude towards mental health.
Being a unique story with a certain sense of fantasy, Split is very independent in its standing as a horror/thriller. Following three girls after they are kidnapped by a man with 23 alternate personalities (James McAvoy), the story delves into just how different each of those personalities can be, and the powers that come with each one.
Split relies on its mystery to generate an incredible sense of fear in a poetically psychological way. James McAvoy is forthrightly creepy, with definite elements of Officer Robertson from Filth channeling through his performance. There is a great deal of material for him to work with, in truly one of the deepest characters created for cinema. Each of his personalities is vastly complex and contrastive in a seriously deep performance. McAvoy is an absolute triumph.
Yet, for a film so set on creating elaborate characters with real meaning behind them, it allows its side characters to lie completely two dimensional. There are less than ten actors in roles (counting McAvoy as one not 23), so any form of a throwaway role is a dreadful settlement. To insinuate that there are humans that can be considered exactly the same as each other and no way to differentiate between them is a 180 degree turn from the imagery being set by having McAvoy on screen. Split relies so heavily on its characters, there should be a careful line stepped in specially making sure that each character has the perfect persona.
Split does just enough to cover up some more of its major flaws without being defined by them. If someone of McAvoy’s calibre was absent it would suffer with underdeveloped characters and an over intuitive plot. McAvoy takes the intrinsic characters he is given and turns them into reality. The film owes him a lot, but at its heart Split is actually very clever.