I went to the cinema to see this psychological horror-thriller movie recently, because my wife said that this will be a good one since the director is the famous Night Shyamalan of “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” fame. I said fine and went along – the mistake I made was that I did not look up on the movie’s storyline and reviews. So, it was a total surprise, and shock to see what truly turned out to be a horror movie with unexpected twists and some gory scenes.
To start with, the movie (like many Hollywood horror and crime movies) reminded me that there are many deranged, mentally unstable and psychologically challenged folks around us (not just in the U.S., but it will appear that their existence seems to be predominantly in the Western world, and especially in the U.S.). Coincidentally, I read just yesterday that the U.S. Congress overturned a previously passed bill which will restrict mentally disturbed folks to obtain guns (which means that the U.S. Congress now says that it is absolutely all right for mental patients to buy guns without any further checks and roam around cities, doing whatever they wish).
It is no wonder directors and story tellers get ideas from the real world happenings in these so-called advanced societies. The main reason why a person gets into a mentally disturbed state or into a multiple-personality disorder state is because of parental abuse, or because a close relative abused the person during his or her younger years – well, this situation is not restricted to advanced countries, it also happens in other countries. However the key difference is that the legal system in advanced societies treat these patients rather kindly (probably because there is advanced psychological, psychiatric and medical help available) and let these folks back into society, while in developing countries, there is apparently more caution exercised especially when there is a criminal angle. When there is a clear case for suspecting that a person is abnormal, and has tendencies to inflict crime on unsuspecting people around him/her, then a restraint is absolutely necessary, weighing the society’s safety to be more important than the individual’s.
Coming back to SPLIT, the movie, the key thing which stands out is the eerie cinematography and the direction. Of course, James McAvoy has delivered a stunning performance as the person who has multiple personalities which dominate him at different times. I will be remiss if I don’t mention the amazingly talented Anya Taylor-Joy, who is one of the three young girls abducted. The mind games she plays against James McAvoy in the movie are thrilling, and her vulnerable demeanour adds tension to what is already an environment filled with unexpected turns and twists.
Betty Buckley comes as Dr Fletcher, who is the psycho-therapist for our patient. She is fabulous in putting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and realizes that there is something wrong with her multiple-personality patient. I expected her to go with some police assistance to the home of the patient, but she doesn’t, adding further to the thrill and tension. I also expected her to survive, but she…………
Well, at the end, I would say that Night Shyamalan has laid out his plans for a sequel, as the “beast” survives, not caught by the police. SPLIT is an absolutely thrilling movie which challenges our understanding of complex mentally challenged patients, and how an otherwise normal individual can be completely taken over by another damaging and harmful persona. Such patients pose a huge challenge to society, and need to be handled carefully by the medical community – they cannot just mingle with the rest of the society until the time they are cured, but then the cure could be an illusion as we saw in this movie.
Now I realize how difficult it would be for the person concerned to be in and out of multiple personalities, and even more so how hugely challenging it would be for the psychologists/psychiatrists to decipher the problems of such patients and then render the appropriate treatment on an ongoing basis.
An amazing thriller, but hold the arm rests tightly.
18th February 2017