When M. Night Shyamalan first burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense in 1999, the writer-director was hailed as the new king of modern horror. The movie was scary, original, and man oh man, that twist. He followed that up with the stellar Unbreakable and the mostly creepy Signs, and then things started to go downhill. After a string of misses, including The Village and The Happening, Shyamalan became a bit of a punchline; someone who relied too heavily on a gimmicky twist ending. That is, until 2015's The Visit, a truly scary horror movie that reminded fans of what he was capable. Now he's back with another film, Split, that looks absolutely terrifying. So how scary is Split?
All indications suggest that it's pretty scary. The film stars James McAvoy as a man who suffers from dissociative identity disorder; in other words, he has multiple personalities. 23, to be exact. And while some of these personalities living within him are kind, others most certainly are not; so you can never be sure who it is you're seeing on screen. The film kicks off by having him kidnap three high school girls and transferring them to an underground bunker, where they have to await their fate while trying to figure out just who it is they're dealing with.
There are several aspects about the film that should make viewers uneasy. Obviously, the claustrophobia of being held against your will in a bunker is both terrifying and something that has actually happened all too often in real life. The idea of dealing with a mentally-unhinged man who controls your fate, and who is wholly unpredictable, is also a very scary thought. And then there's the film's somewhat fantastic element: In addition to the plethora of personalities that McAvoy's character already exhibits, there is a buried "beastly" one that is threatening to emerge and take over; one that promises to be more horrifying than all the others.
The film relies on suspense, mystery, and the unknown to craft a feeling of great discomfort in the viewer; a feeling that isn't likely to let up until the credits roll. So whether you're a fan of Shyamalan's past work or not, odds are you will definitely be scared by the goings on in Split.