By Taylor Forrest
After M. Knight Shyamalan’s comeback film, “The Visit,” turned out to be an amazing film that I thoroughly enjoyed, I couldn’t wait to see his newest movie, “Split.” M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies are well-known to have a major plot twist that completely turns the movie on its head that often times causes the audience to quite literally jump out of their seat. Yet, “Split” was lackluster in this department, offering only the expected and little to no twist. Although, that was not the only disappointment that this thriller offered.
“Split” offered little to no background with the action starting from the get-go when three young girls, Claire, Marcia and Casey, are kidnapped by “Dennis,” one of 24 personalities that reside in Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder. “Dennis” takes the girls to his underground home where they are slowly exposed to the varying and different personalities that inhabit this one individual. All the while, Kevin keeps attending appointments with his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher. Whilst getting a glimpse into Kevin’s appointments, you are also exposed to the research that Dr. Fletcher has done on her other patients that have dissociative identity disorder. As you see Kevin’s personalities evolving into something more sinister, Dr. Fletcher explains the science behind her research, which centers around the fact that these different identities can change their biological makeup when they take “center stage.”
This scientific research and explanation is the only redeemable part about this movie, but unfortunately it was taken too far and became absolutely unbelievable. While it was conceivable that one identity might have diabetes and the others do not, it is not conceivable that the human body can morph into a monster with super-human strength, speed and has the ability to withstand multiple blasts from a shotgun. And yet, that is what M. Knight Shyamalan did. Kevin, an ordinary man with multiple personalities, is somehow able to morph into a monster of sorts and kills two of the three girls and his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher. Unfortunately, the movie also makes it blatantly clear throughout the film that Casey, one of the kidnapped girls, will be the only one to live.
While the lack of transparency, plot twists and ingenuity was enough to turn me off to the movie, that wasn’t even the worst part. I think the most terrible thing about this movie was that its portrayal of dissociative identity disorder was obnoxiously offensive to those that actually suffer from this disorder, or another other mental affliction for that matter. While I understand that it is a movie and calls for over-the-top theatrics, I think that the film was disrespectful because they put the disorder on display making it laughable, shocking, sinister and utterly disturbing.
I was not the only viewer that thought that Split completely misrepresented the group of individuals that live with this disease on a day-to-day basis. In a CNN article, a dissociative identity disorder expert also believed the film was harmful and stigmatized the disease, “”You are going to upset and potentially exacerbate symptoms in thousands of people who are already suffering,” said Deckel, a DID specialist at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.” The CNN article also pointed out that while M. Knight Shyamalan’s film portrayed dissociative identity disorder, otherwise known as DID, as a very violent disease, very rarely are the individuals with the disorder are violent. In fact, these individuals that suffer from this disorder are more likely to hurt themselves than they are to hurt other people. This film is not only offensive, but is counterproductive in embracing, dealing with, and overcoming mental disabilities, disorders and other maladies.
It is safe to say that I would not recommend this film to anyone, and I thoroughly hope that M. Knight Shyamalan doesn’t slip into a dismal decline of poor writing and directing once again.
Taylor Forrest is a senior majoring in communication. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.