M. Night Shyamalan Is Back

By Kaitlin Reilly

If you scare easy, you may want to grab a buddy before you watch the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's Split. The praised writer/director of 1999's The Sixth Sense definitely proved he was back after his 2015 box office success The Visit was released — if you missed it, it was a found-footage horror flick that made a trip to grandma's a living nightmare and also returned him to his comfortable place in Hollywood: creating horror films with a killer twist. Though we won't know if there's a surprise twist in Split until the final minutes, given Shyamalan's history, I think we can predict something twisted at the very lease. The question now is just what that twist could be.

Shyamalan's upcoming film won't hit theaters until Jan. 20, 2017, but what we already know about the plot of Split from this trailer is seriously effed up: Kevin, a man with 23 personalities (James McAvoy) kidnaps a trio of teenage girls for something one of his diabolical personalities has planned. The film ultimately becomes a fight for survival, not only for the teenagers, but for the personalities in Kevin's head, whom could be destroyed by a still-submerged personality, seemingly called "The Beast."

Obviously, it's hard to tell the extent of the plot through just this trailer, but from the look of it, we're supposed to believe that the Beast wants the girls for "something horrible." If that's our expectation going into a Shyamalan movie, well, we basically have to subvert that. Take The Sixth Sense: the entire time, we were set up to believe that Bruce Willis' character Malcolm was hired by "I see dead people" kid Cole's mother to help him with his issues. It's what we believe the whole movie because we trust the protagonist, and we trust what he says. That's why it's so surprising when it's revealed that Malcolm was dead the whole time: the film completely defies are expectations. Could that be what's going on in Split?

Right now, our protagonist appears to be The Witch star Anya Taylor-Joy's character, who, in the trailer, has direct communication with Kevin and his other personas. We're clearly supposed to be on this girl's side — which I'm personally thinking might be how Shyamalan eventually "gets" us. What if these teenage girls are also a part of Kevin's personalities, and that the "prison" these girls are living in is actually just within the confines of Kevin's tortured mind? One clue from the trailer might suggest it: during a voiceover in which Kevin's psychologist points out that there are "23 identities living in Kevin's mind," we see a flash of Kevin's other personalities... and we also see Taylor-Joy's character.

Curious, no?

OK, so maybe I should wait until I actually see the movie before predicting its twist ending, but I can't help it — after years of being tricked by Shyamalan's crazy twists, I'm desperate to figure this one out before it gets me.

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