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Sunday, January 22, 2017

How I Would Have Wanted Split (The Movie) to End

Warning! If you haven't seen Split yet, don't proceed reading this article. This contains spoilers and a lot of unanswered questions observed in the movie. I am sharing my review of the movie and how I saw things in my perspective. I am open to discussions about these observations but please, be kind.

As a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, I was excited to see what sort of twist he would present with his latest creation, Split. I’ve always enjoyed Shyamalan’s twists as they let me know never to trust the surface with his movies. Films like Devil and Lady in The Water taught me to look deeper into Shyamalan’s work and see even the smallest of details.

Unfortunately, Shymalan lost his touch in his recent films. Before Split, I’ve read numerous articles that talked about the “death spiral of Shyamalan’s career” (FiveThirtyEight) and “Where M. Night Shyamalan Went Wrong” (Cinemablend). These articles were written by veteran movie buffs and experts detailing their disappointment over Shyamalan’s work over the recent years.

But then came Split, a movie about a man with 23 split-personalities who abducted three young women and kept them in a locked room. While the movie focused much on the characters of Kevin Wendell Crumb, it also gave some snippets of the protagonist, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy)’s past. Before we watched the movie, we’d already heard some praises about the film raving it to be Shyamalan’s comeback. My husband even loved the ending, as it was far from the typical twists the director was hugely known for.

On the other hand, I exited the movie theatre disappointed and with a lot of questions on mind. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the film—believe me, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. My only concern was that there were plenty of unanswered questions and hints that the movie could have gone a different route.

Let me explain.

The Parking Lot Scene

Remember in the movie when Dennis (James McAvoy) first entered the frame? He entered a car where the teenagers were seated in and were waiting for Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson)’s dad. Dennis was one of the main antagonists who took control over Kevin’s body from the friendly fashion designer, Barry. Among the girls, Casey was the first to notice that a stranger had entered the vehicle. But instead of leaving the car or panicking, she just stared in shock; even as Dennis had sprayed the girls’ faces with something that made them faint. After that, Casey quietly tried to escape because she knew it was trouble. When Dennis heard the car door open, he sprayed her too.

Why didn’t she panic? Was it because she knew the stranger already?

The Locked Room

When one of the girls was talking about escaping, Casey murmured that there was no point to trying to escape. In fact, she was uncooperative the entire time the three girls were locked in the room. She knew it was pointless in trying to fight back against the antagonist even though they outnumber him. They could have worked together and tried with all their might instead of giving up right away.

Was it because Casey knew who they were dealing with? Another question was why Casey found it so easy to sleep soundly without waking up to the sound of the door being opened, when apparently, the other girls couldn’t?

Casey Meets Hedwig

The first time Casey meets Hedwig, a 9-year old persona of Kevin, she quickly became comfortable to try and manipulate him. She tries to convince Hedwig to help them escape the locked room even though she had no gauge whether or not it was one of the personalities of the Horde (the collective name for the 23) that were trying to fool her. Why was she so quick to trust Hedwig? Was it because she had already encountered him in the past?

Casey’s Father’s Death

In one of her flashbacks, we see Casey with her Uncle John (Brad William Henke) who tells her that whatever killed her father “runs in the family” and that he would have to take care of her from then on. This is one scene that was left unanswered. There was no explanation on how her father died and whatever it was that was hereditary. Was her uncle a psychopath (well, he was because he was a pedophile) and if so, did that mean she was as well?

The Guardian

My point is this—could Casey’s uncle be one of Kevin’s alter-personalities? Was he one of the 23 personalities residing in the mind of the antagonist? Remember, we only met five or six of the personalities Kevin kept inside his head. When the policewoman informs Casey that her guardian was there to pick her up, she was hesitant to leave the police car. Was this because she knew he was the monster that just tried to attack her and killed her friends?

I believe that Shyamalan had a different ending in mind for the movie. But because he wanted to prove his worth as a director and a storyteller once again, he went with an ending that was fitting for every moviegoer’s satisfaction. Thus, a sequel was hinted at the end of the movie, one wherein the character of Bruce Willis from Shyamalan’s Unbreakable would probably battle it out with The Beast in a succeeding film. Perhaps this ending was actually the signature twist we were all expecting from an M. Night Shyamalan movie. 

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