It turns out I didn’t. I feel like I might enjoy Split more if I ever see it again, a few years down the road, but right now I just don’t take to PG-13 horror movies, even ones as technically impressive as this. Sure, I can think of a few exceptions, but horror shouldn’t be this safe and wholesome. (Don’t get me wrong… there’s definitely a subplot that’s going to disturb a lot of people.)
Three teenagers are kidnapped by a man with split personalities. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. Either you want to see that or you don’t.
It’s a shame, too, because I really thought M. Night Shyamalan might be gravitating to the dark side after pulling off that disgusting stunt in The Visit. (If you’ve seen it, you know exactly which scene I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it, watch it while you’re waiting for a delivery or when you’re folding the laundry or something… it’s okay at best.)
Horror should be like getting into a car with a stranger who turns out to be a madman. Yet Shyamalan is proving to be more like that goofy uncle who pulls the “uh-oh, the headlights went out!” gag on a dark but relatively safe stretch of country road. There’s a madman in Split, who’s exactly like the madmen in countless horror movies, only this madman’s portrayed by a capable actor who really doesn’t go as far overboard as a B-movie star would.
Give me a Shatner or a Jeffrey Combs. Give me a Joe Spinell or a John Lithgow. When I pay to see madmen, I want them to bounce off the fuckin’ walls. And don’t tell me, “But this is realistic!” We departed reality way back when that second trailer dropped. (That trailer, by the way, was the sole reason I decided against seeing Split in theaters.)
When I take issue with the rating, my problem isn’t that the movie’s not filled with wall-to-wall violence and profanity. My problem is that the rating assures us everything’s going to be okay. We’ll see some disturbing stuff for sure, but we won’t lose any sleep over it.
Technically speaking, it’s a good movie, but it just didn’t work for me. Half the time I couldn’t believe it was made by the same guy who made Unbreakable, one of my favorite movies of the 2000s. The rest of the time, I realized I’d rather be watching Green Room again, which was a lot less predictable and anything but comforting.