The trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming low-profile thriller called Split. was released on Wednesday and it’s equal parts fascinating and troubling.
It’s got all-around awesome actor James McAvoy starring as a creepy dude that kidnaps three young girls — one being Anya Taylor-Joy, who broke out in a star-making turn in last year’s The Witch, and will star in the upcoming sci-fi thriller Morgan — and promptly locks them up in his basement. What starts off as a tense, if straightforward kidnapping story, turns into something else when McAvoy’s character reveals himself as having multiple personality disorder and displays the emotions and characteristics of 23 individual people. The trailer makes it look a bit like a mix between 10 Cloverfield Lane and Psycho.
But movies like these often feature obvious plot twists that are telegraphed way too easily. This is a Shyamalan movie we’re talking about, and the dude made his name on an increasingly lackluster series of surprise twists in his films. He wrote the script, so hopefully he has something a bit more unique in store than and obvious switcheroo.
Once heralded as the next Spielberg because of modern classics like The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan seemed to waste that goodwill away with stinkers like The Happening and The Last Airbender.
He returned to appropriately creepy form with the micro-budget found footage film The Visit.
Take a look at the trailer below:
The most troubling aspect of the movie seems to be its treatment of mental illness. It’s already operating on a foundation of bunk science — the “people with multiple personalities can change their body chemistry with their thoughts” line alone is groan-worthy — but it’s using an anachronistic view of a major psychological affliction and taking advantage of it in such a glib way simply for the scares seems wrong at this point. Yes, movies like Psycho and even the racy Brian De Palma thriller Dressed to Kill are classics that do the same thing, but we’ve come a long way since then and dipping into that just seems ill-advised.
Here’s hoping the trailer just painted the wrong picture of the complete film. Here’s the official synopsis:
“Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.”
The rest of the cast is rounded out by Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson. Split will hit theaters on January 20, 2017.