Night Shyamalan doesn’t have the best track record for me. …For most people, I suppose. But I give him a shot every now and then. The Visit – his last film before this one – was a decently fun ride, even if it wasn’t quite what I was hoping it to be: a return to form. So I thought Split was worth a look this time around…

(If I’m being honest, I’d give almost anything a look if it has James McAvoy in it. He’s been solid in…well, I can’t even seem to think of something he wasn’t solid in.)

I knew what I’d seen from Shyamalan before, and I believed I’d be disappointed. I figured it’d be an attempt at taking The Visit’s formula, and trying to expand upon it, but with little to no success. But this was more of a baby step in pushing the formula. With a different kind of twist I didn’t ever see coming.

The entire film was a standard affair of psychological thriller, mixed with a few interesting choices along the way. McAvoy’s performance as all of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s personalities were all as great as you’d expect, and the first twist was simple and solid. You could argue that the setup of the heroine’s struggle was a bit heavy handed, but it worked well enough. In fact, I think everything worked just well enough, if not even a little better.

But I want to bring up that final twist. The final moment of the film where we see…

Okay, spoilers. Fine. But I’m talking about it.

We get one final callback in the last moments of the film that is a reference I didn’t think would happen. A character in Shyamalan’s universe that didn’t need another appearance for most people, but for me…I was excited.

When you see Bruce Willis’ David Dunn peer into frame, saying, simply, “Mr Glass…” My mind went all over the place. On one hand, I was annoyed. Angry, even. Bothered that Shyamalan pulled a fast one and “forced” something into a place it didn’t belong, for the sake of his own ego. But on the other hand…I’ve wanted another Unbreakable more than I’ve wanted to see any more big-budget comic book movies.

In reading about the film after the fact, Shyamalan spoke to several people about the ending, saying he’d had Kevin Wendell Crumb in mind since writing Unbreakable. That the character was actually in original drafts of the script, and Split was always intended as an origin story. That being said, I don’t know if it was necessary. Split stood fine on its own, without a 15+ year old movie to support it. Especially a 15+ year old movie that wasn’t extremely well received, in hindsight.

But man…I can’t say I wasn’t happy to see it.

Now I want to say all the reasons I thought Unbreakable was fantastic… but I won’t. The point I’m going after is this: I want more Unbreakable. I want Shyamalan’s next move to be building an artsy, comic book universe, with origin stories for characters we want to follow forever. I want comic book movies to be mainstream, without the flair and flashiness of explosions. Give me characters that I imagined as a kid, with rough backstories and real things they need to overcome. (Or, if it turns out to be good, give me more films like Logan.)

Split was a great, slow-burn of a thriller, without much leading to the twist at the end, but It might be for the best. Telegraphing that connection throughout the film wouldn’t help the payoff at all. As it stands, anyone who likes it can smile about that final line. Anyone who doesn’t can simply ignore it as an after credits punch for someone else.

Go see Split. Check it out for yourself and see how you feel about that ending. THEN, I’ll give you all the reasons why Unbreakable is Shyamalan’s best film.

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