James McAvoy stars in "Split"

“Split,” a psychological thriller, features Kevin (James McAvoy), who suffers form Dissociative Identity Disorder. “Dennis,” one of his 23 different personalities, kidnaps a group of teenage girls who eventually learn of his nature. 

Within the first few minutes of “Split,” the film immediately begins with a tense, thrilling scene that gets under your skin, just like most M. Night Shyamalan films. The movie starts out with a deranged man named Kevin Wendell Crumb (played by James McAvoy) who abducts three girls as they leave a classmate’s birthday party. From there, he locks them up and warns them that something special is in store. As the movie goes on, the girls eventually discover that Kevin holds many different personalities. To be exact, 23 different personalities exhibited by McAvoy’s character.

McAvoy’s performance in “Split” is one of his best performances in his career. By shifting from one persona to another, he binds the movie together in a dark, intense way. His personas, which include Dennis, an uptight and dominant personality; Patricia, a British women; Hedwig, a nine-year-old boy with a lisp; and Barry, a flamboyant fashion designer, are some of the few personalities we see throughout the movie. As the movie progresses, it’s possible for viewers to determine which personality is in control simply by the nuances of McAvoy’s body and verbal language, and the performances begin to become even more proficient throughout the scenes in which he shifts from one personality to another. 

The film has without a doubt raised controversy on whether or not the movie correctly shows the effects of mental illnesses, as McAvoy is portraying an individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder. When the trailer was first released, mental health advocates and the LGBTQ+ community criticized how the movie represented DID and as to why one of the personalities, as the film’s trailer refers to it as, “The Beast,” appears to be seen as a monster-like creature when unleashed.

To be fair, “Split” seemed to focus more on psychological trauma and abuse as we learn that both McAvoy’s and Taylor-Joy’s character’s share a dark past. Despite the movie’s ludicrous proposition of “The Beast,” McAvoy does a fearless job of selling his character’s diverse personae. There’s even a moment toward the end of the movie where he cycles between different personae in one jaw-dropping scene. 

As a psychological thriller, “Split” has an unexpected and satisfying ending. The final scene of the movie was like connecting the last puzzle piece of a board game, one you didn’t even know you were missing. For many Shyamalan film fans, the ending will be extremely fulfilling, to others, it might just fly over their heads. Overall, “Split” is definitely a movie for all types of personalities. 

Yaitza Lopez is a freshman kinesiology major. Contact Yaitza at lopezye@dukes.jmu.edu.