M. Night Shyamalan’s SPLIT was the secret screening at last year’s FANTASTIC FEST. There’s always a sense of tension, unease, and excitement when you’re seated for the secret screening; this movie could be anything. ROUGE ONE? A secret sequel to HALLOWEEN? There are always rumors. After a tense, creepy opening, Shyamalan’s name flashes on the screen and you can sense the unease of the audience remains.
Shyamalan is a divisive filmmaker as I stated in my review of SPLIT from last year. He has two, maybe three undeniable classics under his belt (even fans seem to waver on SIGNS) and then a slew of films that plenty of filmgoers skipped or were disappointed in. Shyamalan went from the Hollywood it kid to all but having his name removed from the marketing for 2013’s AFTER EARTH as he was seen by some to be box-office poison. The filmmaker appeared to build up some goodwill with 2015’s found-footage thriller, THE VISIT which was a hit for production company Blumhouse. Shyamalan and Blumhouse teamed up once again for SPLIT, which is going wide this week with critics calling it a serious comeback for the filmmaker.