M. Night Shyamalan has always been a better entertainer than artist. Despite an almost preternatural sense of staging and framing, he’s a showman at heart. Whatever he lacks in self-awareness, he makes up in self-seriousness and ego.
Maybe that’s why his latest, “Split,” simultaneously looks like a return to form and an indication that this filmmaker has finally lost it.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For a few brief moments, “Split” has a manic looseness that has evaded this director from the start. When the movie loses itself in its own nuttiness, it matches James McAvoy’s unhinged performance for sheer bottom-feeding lunacy.
But getting there is no walk in the park. “Split” is creaky, overlong, and borderline offensive. But with junk this dumb, getting worked up amounts to overreaction. Whether he knows it or not, Shyamalan has finally found his inner De Palma.
“Split.” Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Betty Buckley. Opens in Kansas City January 19, 2017.