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‘Split’ describes personality disorder as well as movie review

By Jay Tinsley

James McAvoy portrays someone with MPD in 'Split.' Photo courtesy of
James McAvoy portrays someone with MPD in ‘Split.’
Photo courtesy of

M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” is a disconcerting horror film that revolves around a group of three girls, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) as they fight to gain freedom from “Dennis,” one of the 23 personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man with multiple personality disorder (MPD).

McAvoy’s performance in the film is riveting and close to an accurate portrayal of a person with MPD. The movie’s claims that MPD can cause a person to “cure” himself of blindness or cause him to be able to cling to smooth vertical surfaces are entirely fictitious, however.

The movie begins with a scene of a birthday party, wherein Marcia and Claire have invited Casey along. When they go out to head home in the car, “Dennis” arrives to kidnap them and take them to his “home.”

After the girls are taken, the viewer learns from “Dennis,” “Hedwig” and “Patricia” that there are many personalities in Kevin’s body and that the ones in charge at the moment are working to bring out a hidden 24th personality known as “The Beast.”

The personalities treat the girls very differently. “Dennis” treats the girls badly at first, then seems more distant and detached from them. “Hedwig” is a very stereotypical representation of a young boy.

Later we discover that Kevin has a therapist that has been helping him and many others with MPD and using her findings to help explain what it is and how it works using her lectures.

After the majority of the film has passed, the Beast takes control of Kevin’s body, shaping it to be a terrifying creature. While his looks don’t change drastically, he adopts the traits of nearly every animal in the zoo near his hiding spot.

Overall the film is better than expected, but it is not exactly “very good”. There are some problems with it, but that’s true of every movie. Although it could have been better researched, seeing as the portrayal of MPD is inconsistent and partially false, it is still entertaining in the end.

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