Saturday, January 21, 2017

Split [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Split [2016] (written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan) is a quite disconcerting film that I have a fair amount of mixed emotions about. 

ON ONE HAND, the film's probably WAY MORE LURID than it needs to be: Three teenage girls, Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) Claire (played by Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (played Jessica Sula), are kidnapped and held in some underground compound by a crazed man in his 20s-30s (played by James McAvoy) with serious multiple personality disorder.  Since teenage girls are involved the film-maker, while never crossing into R-territory, certainly "plays at the boundary" between the PG-13 / R-ratings -- while never having the three actresses undressed completely, the director does have them show about as much skin as the PG-13 rating would allow.  SO there's DEFINITELY a CREEPY aspect to this film that will PROBABLY "ick-out" (!) a fair number of adults (including myself...) that would go to see it. 

ON THE OTHER HAND, if one imagines THE TARGET AUDIENCE to be _precisely_ TEENAGE GIRLS ... then WOW, does this film _speak the language_ of _wide-eyed_ teenage girls telling _a scary story_ to freak-out their friends!  And that's, I suppose, the film's genius.  It's a story that one would imagine a group of junior-high early-high-school teenage girls would tell each other about "some really messed-up / deeply creepy dude." 

Now maybe the next time a film like this hits the screen, it'd probably be better if it was written / made by women as well...

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