(US - 2019)
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Cast: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, M. Night Shyamalan, Serge Didenko, Russell Posner, Leslie Stefanson. (PG-13, 129 mins)
After a decade spent as a critical punching bag and all-around industry pariah, M.Night Shyamalan mounted an unexpected comeback with 2015's THE VISIT and 2017's SPLIT, a pair of surprise hits for low-budget horror factory Blumhouse. SPLIT focused on Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a disturbed young man with 23 personalities he collectively calls "The Horde," working to both protect Kevin and contain a 24th, known as "The Beast." Kevin abducts three teenage girls from a mall parking lot and by the end of the film, the monstrous Beast emerges, with a Hulk-like animal rage and a supernatural ability to climb walls. McAvoy's performance was an astonishing tour-de-force and should've been up for some awards, and his work did much of the heavy lifting when it came to making SPLIT Shyamalan's best film in years. A closing credits stinger showing an uncredited Bruce Willis threw everyone for a loop, establishing SPLIT as a secret sequel to Shyamalan's 2000 film UNBREAKABLE, the director's much-ballyhooed follow-up to his blockbuster THE SIXTH SENSE. Considered somewhat of a disappointment at the time, UNBREAKABLE was ultimately a superhero origin story and comic book deconstruction that was made at a time when comic book superhero movies weren't really a thing. The film quickly found loyal cult following and a critical reassessment over the years, and is now regarded by many as every bit as essential the Shyamalan canon as THE SIXTH SENSE.