BY: Sonny Bunch
Spoilers are below. Spoilers for Split. I told you to see it this weekend because people would talk about the ending. And now I’m warning you to stop reading if you haven’t seen Split. You should go see it! Right now, go, close up your laptop and head to a theater. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. In fact, if I am the boss of you, keep working and see it tonight once you’ve filed.Read More
Spoilers are below, as I discuss Split‘s twist. I told you to see it this weekend because people would talk about the ending. And now I'm warning you to stop reading if you haven't seen Split. You should go see it! Right now, go, close up your laptop and head to a theater. Or don't, I'm not the boss of you. In fact, if I am the boss of you, keep working and see it tonight once you've filed.
So, Split is a huge hit, grossing $40-plus million at the box office this weekend on a $9-$10 million budget. I imagine it still has a ways to go before profitability—that budget doesn't include publicity and advertising—but it's a great start for a pretty solid movie. As someone who welcomes the Shyamalannaissance, I'm glad it's doing decent business.
Also, I'm glad that people followed the advice in my review and went out opening weekend. (Blumhouse can send my check to the Washington Free Beacon office; I presume that my recommendation accounted for at least 10 percent of the haul.) I'm glad they went out, because the final 90 seconds of Split contain one of the all-time-greatest twists in the history of secret movie reveals.
But I have to be honest: I have been going back and forth on whether or not it was a giant cheat.
In Split‘s closing moments, we see diners at a restaurant gathered in front of a TV listening to a story about the kidnapping of Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) by the multiple-personalitied Kevin (James McAvoy). The murderous madman escaped and the media is now calling him "The Horde," a nom de crime he adopted in the course of his killing. A patron says that it reminds her of a previous case where a crazy person killed a bunch of people and was given a nickname by the media—to which a character played by, gasp, Bruce Willis nods his head and says "Mr. Glass."
Or something to that effect; I'll be honest, I was kind of shaking in my seat at that point. Because, if you didn't know, this is a callback to Unbreakable, M. Night's Sixth Sense-followup that starred Willis as David Dunn, a nigh-on-invulnerable security guard who can sense evildoers by brushing up against them. Since that film's 2000 debut, audiences have been clamoring for a sequel—a sequel that has long been rumored, but never delivered. A sequel that has, now, materialized with Split.
It's a fantastic coda. But is it a cheat? After all, it kind of comes out of nowhere: there's nothing, really, in the rest of the film that suggests we should expect it. And it doesn't radically alter our conception of the rest of the movie in a way that Shyamalan's other twists tend to. The Sixth Sense, for instance, becomes an entirely different movie if you understand Willis's character's actions—his distance from his wife, her inability to interact with him—as that of a ghost who can't let go. The film becomes far more poignant on second viewing. Similarly, The Village becomes a far more interesting film the second time around: you realize that this is a movie about community, about creating hope out of tragedy, about the ways in which fear can be used and abused to keep people docile and maintain unity.
Split‘s twist doesn't really change the film; in a way, it almost feels tacked on. But it also feels totally organic. Hand-to-God: As I was watching Split‘s climax—during which Casey tries to escape The Horde—I thought to myself, "You know what would really kick this movie up a notch? Is if Bruce Willis showed up at the end and rescued her." And then I started thinking about the ways it might make sense: maybe Dunn bumped into Kevin during the scene in the train station, sensed his evil, and tracked him down to the zoo where he took the girls hostage.
I pushed all that aside as wishful thinking. Not so wishful, as it turns out!
And not that much of a cheat, I guess. Well played, M. Night Shyamalan. It's good to have you back in the game.Read Less