M. Night Shyamalan started his career off pretty strong, but soon became a bit of a joke with a series of notoriously terrible movies. Somehow though, by making a film with a simpler story that is well cast and is actually a little scary, he seems back on the right track. Who’d have thought it huh?
Anya Taylor-Joy is Casey, a troubled girl who along with two of her ‘friends’ (she doesn’t really like them) is kidnapped by Kevin, played by James McAvoy. He locks them up in a small room as a sacrifice to the soon-to-be-arriving ‘beast’. It turns out that Kevin has 23 different personalities and the beast will emerge as the 24th and most powerful, not to mention most evil. It’s an interesting idea and one that could easily come off completely comedic and rubbish, but here it actually works.
The reason it works is largely down to the performance of James McAvoy. He really brings something different to each of the personalities. There are a couple of them that get a lot more screentime than others, but each and every one of them could easily be a different character. It really is very good. And even though seeing a grown man pretend to be a very young child is quite funny, it’s never too funny. Anya Taylor-Joy is very good as the kid with a disturbing past. She brings some good emotion to the film and her character has real weight to her and her actions.
The rest of the cast are also pretty decent, but it’s really just the Kevin and Casey story. There’s not too much horror in the way of scares, it’s more psychological. Kids being captured by a dangerous person with an identity disorder is pretty scary, and there are some tense scenes. It’s not terrifying no, but scary enough. The story moves along at a nice pace too, with some good reveals and classic Shyamalan twists.
Overall it’s a pretty good film. Scary enough and just interesting enough to keep the plot moving forward. The film is really held together by McAvoy’s incredibly strong performance and some good ideas. It may not be back to his early career heights, but Shyamalan is definitely stepping in the right direction.
JACK’S SCORE: 3/5