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'Split' Blu-ray Review: Creepy thriller marks a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan

April 18, 2017Ben MK

Considering his ties to the X-Men franchise, it's reasonable to assume that James McAvoy's hairstyle — or lack thereof — in Split has more to do with his role as Professor X than his portrayal of a man with 23 distinct personalities. That said, it's a testament to McAvoy's talent that this thought will probably never cross your mind, as you watch him deliver a master class in acting in writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's latest comeback thriller.

In Split, McAvoy plays Kevin, a man with a mysterious past who suffers from a rare condition dubbed by his longtime psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), as Dissociative Identity Disorder. As a result, Kevin's psyche has been incontrovertibly split into nearly two dozen "alters," among which we count an aspiring fashion designer named Barry and a lisping, nine-year-old boy named Hedwig. Little does Dr. Fletcher realize, however, that a terrifying, new personality — ominously referred to as "The Beast" — is about to emerge from the shadows.

The plot unfolds as two of Kevin's alters, the violent Dennis and the stern Miss Patricia, conspire to kidnap three unwitting, teenage girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula) and imprison them in their subterranean hideaway. Unbeknownst to Dennis and Patricia, their would-be victims end up being more trouble than they anticipate. But that goes double for one of the girls in particular, a loner named Casey (Taylor-Joy), whose own dark and disturbing past may just hold the key to her very ability to survive this harrowing ordeal.

Suffice to say, it's not only McAvoy who's at the top of his game in Split, for the film also proves to be a spectacular return to form for Shyamalan, who — after disappointing fans with movies like The Last Airbender and After Earth — executes the story's creepy and suspenseful twists and turns with a mastery he arguably hasn't demonstrated since 2002's Signs. Of course, it's Split's blink-and-you'll-miss-it connection to another one of Shyamalan's earlier works that will have most viewers talking, once the credits have begun to roll.

The visuals in Split — particularly the color palette — are of two minds. Scenes set in the dungeon where the teens are forcibly confined are dark and dreary, whereas hues are noticeably more vibrant and varied when the characters are conversing in Dr. Fletcher's office, or when fragments of Casey's past are revealed via flashback. Either way, the 1080p image remains crisp and crystal-clear throughout, and is made even more impressive by the inclusion of a rousingly effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, which channels all manner of unsettling sound effects — mechanical clanking, animalistic snarls and the like — to create the appropriate atmosphere.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Alternate Ending (0:32) - Playable with an optional introduction by Shyamalan, which adds an additional 1:05 to the running time of this feature.
  • Deleted Scenes (14:37) - Nine scenes ("Casey at Party," "Meeting Shaw," "Shaw has a Party," "Shaw's Date," "Girls Talk," "Patricia Talks Meat," "Casey Tells Her Dad," "Hide and Seek with Hedwig" and "Maybe We are Crazy"), playable with optional introductions by Shyamalan, which add an additional 12:00 to the running time of this feature.
  • The Making of Split (9:50) - A look at where the film fits into Shyamalan's body of work, the cast, the cinematography and the production design.
  • The Many Faces of James McAvoy (5:38) - A look at what McAvoy brings to his role, as well as the techniques and challenges of portraying a character with multiple personalities.
  • The Filmmaker's Eye: M. Night Shyamalan (3:40) - Shyamalan discusses his filmmaking style and the cast and crew talk about working with him.

Split is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of April 18th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 57 Mins.

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