Split (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (and meaningless rambling) REVIEW**

Split (2016)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I walked out of the cinema not entirely sure how I felt about it. At first, I mainly thought it was just okay. But the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it. Now, writing this a day after seeing it, I think my main feeling for Split is disappointment. I didn’t hate it. I certainly didn’t love it. A return to form for M. Night Shyamalan? Possibly. But it’s mainly a return to his ability to make movies I’m really interested in seeing as I love the setups and I do enjoy them when I’m in the middle of watching them but, thinking about them later on, I realize they’re not actually very good films (other than The Sixth Sense, to which I still remain faithful).

I think I feel quite similar about Split as I do The Visit (which I reviewed HERE), although they’re very different. I don’t think either is a horrible film and they’re indeed much better than some of M. Night’s huge stinkers in recent years but both are still extremely flawed, especially in their final acts. Split is probably the “better” film in that it’s played straight with some acting that’s of a higher standard than you expect in the horror genre while The Visit is so over-the-top silly that I’m still convinced it’s a horror comedy despite not being labelled as such. But I think Split has made me like The Visit a fraction more in that the latter was a more enjoyable film to sit through despite its silliness. Let’s face it – M. Night’s ideas are silly. Perhaps he should do them in a more comedic fashion as he did in The Visit?? Split takes itself too seriously. The characters are unlikable whereas those in The Visit are so goofily f*%ked-up that you can’t help but kind of like them. Does that make sense?? I’m rambling. Here are all the Shyamalan films I’ve seen ranked from worst to best according to how much I liked them (including one he only wrote):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

Shut up and talk about the movie, right? You know how hard it is to discuss this dude’s films in a spoiler-free fashion! One thing I’ll say for his movies is this: The majority of them have pretty big name stars and some quality acting despite the horror genre and the often outrageous storylines. I think this has helped to give Shyamalan’s films a bit more credibility than is actually deserved?

As I said, I stand by my opinion that The Sixth Sense is a good piece of filmmaking although people are sometimes negative about it now since the ending is so well known. But everyone involved acted their asses off for that “horror” film (don’t forget that Collette & Osment were up for Acting Oscars as well as Shyamalan for Director & Screenplay and the whole thing for Best Picture!). I don’t think Split’s acting is Oscar calibre but it’s still very good for its kind of film. McAvoy is of course the standout having to play various personalities but I also thought his psychiatrist, Betty Buckley, was very good as was young Anya Taylor-Joy (this is her first film I’ve seen). Oh! And I loved finding out that Betty Buckley was the nice gym teacher in the original Carrie – I didn’t know that until I looked her up just now:

So, bravo to the actors who once again help to elevate an M. Night Shyamalan film. Without them, I think this would be very much in danger of being a bargain bin straight-to-video horror (okay – it’s not straight to “video” anymore, I suppose. Showing my age!). Thanks to the success of The Sixth Sense, I think Shyamalan has been able to continue making films that are just good enough to keep him in the game. I want to like his movies more. I like his ideas but rarely like his execution. I want one of his movies to fully reach its potential (funny, as I do believe this is a line quite often uttered by McAvoy’s character). I also want to stick to my 2017 blog resolution of not writing long, rambling reviews! Let’s wrap this up.

Summary:

Split isn’t horrible and has some very good performances but is as ultimately disappointing overall as I’ve now come to expect from M. Night Shyamalan’s films. I can see why it has a fairly high IMDB user rating so far as this will either be due to a) loyal fans who’ve watched all his films as he has a surprise in store for them OR b) full-on “horror” fans as this is the most straightforward horror film that Shyamalan has made. It’s more straightforward horror than I like, personally, so perhaps that’s partly why I was disappointed. I prefer bizarre & supernatural, which is why I’ve put up with a lot of the silly shit he’s come up with. So, in some ways, I do agree that this film is a better film than a lot of his work but I personally didn’t like it that much.

Also, two things quite bothered me. The main thing was that I didn’t like some of the treatment of the kidnapped teenage girls. Shyamalan mostly makes “PG-13 horror”. That’s its rating in the U.S. but I wouldn’t let a 13-year-old watch this (it’s rated 15 in the UK). Obviously I want to avoid spoilers but there are sexual themes that I don’t think are necessarily handled that well considering the film’s low rating & young-looking actresses. There’s also an implication that two of the girls “deserve” what terrible fate may await them because, I dunno… They’re popular? They don’t come across as really mean girls or anything.

The other thing is more minor but it just annoyed me. There’s an extra bit tacked onto the VERY end of the movie, as the credits have started to roll with the final scene still going, and it feels extremely out of place. This bit should’ve been a mid or end credits scene. This extra bit is for loyal fans and some of you will love it. Half those in my cinema walked out the second the credits started rolling despite the scene clearly still continuing (why the hell do people do that?!) so those type of people clearly don’t care about this small extra bit anyway. Hey, Mr. Shyamalan! Stick something like that halfway through the credits next time to reward those who stick around! (FYI – I rolled my eyes a bit at this tacked-on scene but also admit I kind of like Shyamalan’s obvious future plan…. Why do I never give up on his films?!)

My Rating: 6/10

The Visit (2015) Review

The Visit (2015)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents’ disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

My Opinion:

Like a lot of people, I was a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. At first. When they were good. But then they turned shit. The Sixth Sense was brilliant & I remained a fan through everything up until that stupid Lady In The Water movie (I really liked The Village – why don’t many people like that one?). After The Happening, I gave up on his films completely (and it sounds like it was good that I did – The Last Airbender & After Earth sound terrible). Well, Devil was okay (he wrote the story).

Anyway, I heard that the good old M. Night Shyamalan was finally back with The Visit so, although I didn’t exactly rush to see it, I watched it as soon as I could at home. Hmm… It’s certainly not as good as his best stuff but it’s not completely terrible. It had a lot of potential in the beginning but a ridiculous final 20 minutes or so ruined it for me. Shame. Here – I’m bored so I’m going to rank all his movies that I’ve seen (I’ll include Devil). Worst to best:

Lady In The Water
The Happening
The Visit
Devil
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

I’ll start by discussing The Good Things about The Visit:

The Kids. I thought the kids were quite likable & they actually felt like real kids as opposed to when kids in movies are so clearly “written by adults”. Maybe Shyamalan is just good at directing kids as Haley Joel Osment was so good in The Sixth Sense (but did seem too grown-up for his age). I liked the relationship between the two siblings & I liked that they were smart without being too smart. They’re still just kids & most kids wouldn’t know how to handle the bizarre situation they find themselves in. Their characters & how they deal with things felt more realistic than in most horror movies. The boy has an annoying tendency to rap, though.

Nana. Actress Deanna Dunagan plays this character brilliantly. I’ve never seen her in anything before – she should be in more stuff. It’s like Shyamalan said “can you play a crazy lady?” and she was all “f*^k yeah!” and, wow, she really went to town with this character. Yahtzee!!! I couldn’t help but laugh as she’s so totally over-the-top but you can’t say the actress didn’t give it her all.

The found footage aspect. I realize that saying this will automatically turn some people off of this movie but this plot device doesn’t bother me if used in the right way. To be honest, I completely forgot this was a found footage film so I can say that it clearly wasn’t a distraction. The kids want to make a documentary of the visit with their grandparents & this style actually worked just fine for the movie.

The first half. The Visit really did start out well. It had a good atmosphere & creepy feel. It was fun when the grandparents were doing small odd things that let us know that something wasn’t quite right. There’s a scene under a porch that was pretty intense & claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on & what Shyamalan’s signature twist would be.

The message. There’s actually a fairly good message of sorts at the end concerning family & letting things go.

Now for the unfortunate Bad Things:

The setup. The mom hasn’t talked to her parents in years so her kids have never met them. But then she suddenly decides to send her kids to them for a week after they contact her (or the kids?) out of nowhere (I can’t remember exactly). It just seemed a weak setup. I don’t think a mom would be like “Okay – I’ll send my kids to these people I haven’t spoken to in years because I was wanting a vacation & some sex with my boyfriend anyway”.

The mom. Speaking of the mom, she was just too flaky. I liked the close relationship she had with her kids & they seemed to have good chemistry. Which made the setup all the more unbelievable…

Pop Pop & the excessive craziness of the grandparents. Nana was a lot of fun to watch but, really, the grandparents are so over-the-top crazy by the end that the movie ceases being scary & ends up being laughable. Pretty sure I’ve given nothing away there as trailers, etc, all made it obvious that these two are NOT right in the head. If this was meant as a horror comedy, the ending kind of works. I feel like I read somewhere that this was Shyamalan’s intention but the movie doesn’t seem to ever be defined as a “horror comedy” anywhere online. He does often go over-the-top at the end of his films but I thought The Visit went a bit too far. Especially with Pop Pop, whose character I didn’t enjoy in the same way I did Nana’s. Speaking of Pop Pop….

The diaper thing. Gross. Was that necessary?

The last half (but especially the final 20 minutes or so). Well, I’ve pretty much covered this above. It’s too over-the-top & the grandparents are too crazy. It rubbed shit all over the decent first half of the film.

The twist. Don’t worry – I won’t give it away for those who still may want to see this. But it means I can’t really say much about it. I’m just thinking that Shyamalan was either very lazy with this one OR deceptively brilliant for making it what it was. I dunno. This could actually end up in my Good OR Bad category depending on my mood. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I might. Because I’m CRAZY like that. Yahtzee!!!

Summary:

The Visit had potential & I was really hoping to like another Shyamalan movie again. If he had kept things more subtle & creepy at the end like it was starting out, I’d have definitely liked this more. If it was truly meant as a horror comedy, I’d be slightly more forgiving but I don’t think it’s clear that it’s meant to be this way, which will have probably left a lot of viewers feeling slightly confused by the end. However, there are some strong characters with Nana being fun to watch & the kids being likable – I think we all get sick of the hateful characters that are so common in horror movies. Overall, The Visit was very flawed but it was also just good enough to potentially make me watch whatever Shyamalan makes next if it looks decent enough. He may just win back another fan if his next film is truly a return to form like people claimed this one was & which I sadly believed might be true before those final 20 minutes. (His next film is a movie called Split starring James McAvoy. It’s getting VERY good buzz but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much…)

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, I gotta include this clip…

The Sixth Sense (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Allie & Jenna of Flick Chicks. Thanks for the review, girls! 🙂 Now let’s hear them discuss The Sixth Sense, IMDB rank 143 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Allie’s thoughts are in blue & Jenna’s are in red

Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a young boy who can communicate with spirits that don’t know they’re dead. He spends a lot of time with a child psychiatrist, Dr Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) to try and help his problem.

The Sixth Sense is a really hard film for me to review. I first watched it at a sleepover with my friends when I was about 12, and just as we pressed play, my friend blurted out ‘Oh, this is the film where *insert major spoiler here*’. I have to admit, that really killed it for me. If I could somehow come across a time machine, I think one of the first things I would do is go back to that year and watch the film alone, spoiler free.

I got to watch this completely spoiler free, I think I went to the cinema with my friend Hayley to see it – I was terrified the whole way through.  The down side was I missed a lot of the story because I constantly had my cardigan over my face waiting for something to jump out!  It was only after I watched the whole film that I realised it wasn’t that kind of horror but by then I knew the ‘major spoiler’ so the second (non-scared) time just didn’t have the same impact.  Also, my friend started belting me in the arm (Allie will confirm that this is something I also have a nasty habit of doing when something exciting/scary/interesting happens in a film! – It’s true, I still have the bruises) when the wedding ring dropped, she knew what was going on and I didn’t have a clue!  I’m pretty sure she had to explain the spoiler to me afterwards as well! ha!

However, back to the film.  I did love this film, apart from being scared the story is great and Haley Joel Osment was brilliant as the terrified Cole and Bruce Willis actually does well in a non-action hero role.  The ending definitely makes this film as it can become a little slow in the middle, but that is all forgotten when the film ends.  I generally love M Night Shyamalan films anyway, I think I am the only one of my friends/family who enjoyed The Village, I thought it was really clever and Signs was hilarious

The scenes of teenagers who have blown their brains out and women hanged from the ceiling still terrify me but it’s worth it to see the story play out.

Do you fancy feeling like a total old person? This is what the little boy, Cole looks like now:

Wow, I feel old now!!

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This is a film that everyone should watch at least once. There are a few films in the Top 250 that I question, but this firmly deserves it’s place. I wish I could give it a 10/10 but it’s just not the same knowing how it ends.

This is a must watch for everyone, just don’t be scared and ruin it for yourselves, its not that kind of horror movie.

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