Split – Spoiler Free Movie Review

If I asked you to find the most simplified form of 6/12, you’d probably say 1/2. Six multiplied by two equals to twelve, and so 50% is your final fraction as a percentage. Granted, most view this as some sort of mental math, and doesn’t require a calculator nor a calculated approach for that matter to get to a final answer.

The situation becomes a bit murky when asked the most simplified form of, say, 1/6. Not many people would know that that equals to ~ 16.67%, and so you would need a calculator to find that out. The moral of the story? Something simple doesn’t require you to think as much, but a slight change in the wording (or in this case, numbers), and it hits you right back at square one.

Retracing your steps back to where you started isn’t all that bad though; it allows you to do a postmortem on what went wrong or areas you could’ve improved. A postmortem, can go one of two ways; (1) It makes you think about your wrongs and lets you analyze ways to not have them happen again, or (2) In extreme cases, it can make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and even the slightest tinge of the nerve when someone brings that particular topic up can bring about some harrowing memories. One could surmise that thinking about a situation after-the-fact can lead to some split opinions, for lack of a better word.

What makes 2016’s Split so effective is that a lot of the tension in this horror/thriller is genuine. Jump scares are replaced with psychological fears, bland character development/writing is replaced with characters you can feel emotionally invested in, and the ending is vintage M.Night Shyamalan; a twist, which in this film parallels the unfortunate volatility of one suffering from a mental disorder.

James McAvoy, in perhaps his best performance since 2011’s X-Men: First Class, could be considered a jack of all mental trades. An heir to an assassin in 2008’s Wanted, a powerful telepathic in the aforementioned First Class, and now a cerebral manipulator as a result of his OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)-DID (dissociative identity disorder) diagnosis. It’s difficult to portray one character, let alone five. What I would have liked to see more (and hopefully the sequel delivers on this) is more of an origin story on how his illnesses manifested. Anya Taylor-Joy also had an amazing performance, and I personally liked how her unique backstory, coupled with her strong-willed determination, complemented (and combated against) the Scot’s more sadistic tendencies.

In terms of the technical, it was a well-put package overall. The use of both wide and narrow shots were well-executed and knew when to elevate tension and calm it. The cinematography and overall atmosphere were both effective and successfully achieved the target of the film: a stark reminder of the impact one’s psyche can have on a damaged individual. All in all, a definite return to form for a much maligned Shyamalan, especially after the abomination known as The Last Airbender.

The mind, like all organs, is delicate. It should be cherished, not wasted. It should be appreciated, not frowned upon. Thus, the mind’s eye (and therefore, mental health) is not a joke. I strongly advise anyone in this situation to seek whatever help is out there, and to not give up. The pursuit of happiness starts with a reflection of your best self, and taking that leap of faith might just be enough of a turning point you need to go from your current state to your desired state.

SCORE: 85/100

Get Out – Spoiler Free Review

As recently as January of this year, I was made aware of the fact that our brains contain 90 to 95 percent water. Deep within the confines of the ebbs and flows permeating our mind’s eye lies an ecosystem of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and norms. We often associate these four traits, on average, as essential to the development of a human being.

Of course, humans are not without their flaws, and so our perception of people cannot be a simple black and white canvas whose portrait or landscape orientation paints an idealistic picture that, as the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. In reality, numerous painters will be needed to complete the convoluted series of photos that reflect the roller coaster known as life’s trials and tribulations.

Get Out, a film by Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), takes the concept of an inter-racial couple and develops this roller coaster in a tale showing the harsh realities of oppressive, subservient behaviour in upper middle-class America. Having seen many satirical horror-comedies since I began doing amateur critiquing of films two years ago (e.g. Scream, Scary Movie), nothing has come close to the near-perfect balance of scary-funny than this. Underneath this see-saw of emotions however is a fulcrum of excellent character development, stunning cinematography, and a plot twist I’m still thinking about five or so hours after watching the film.

Aside from the technical details, I really enjoyed how the antagonists were a psychologist (hypnotherapist)-neurosurgeon tandem. Not since Shutter Island have I seen a lead character fitting in the mould of what the film genre’s portraying; a psycho-analytical look at the world of brain specialists/doctors and how manipulative they can be to get what they desire in dangerous places. The messed up stuff this family does to an extraordinary intellectual, with the goal of rendering him to a fragment of what he once was (an ordinary every-man in their pseudo-cult) is disturbing and gruesome, yet highlights the subtle oppression and racial undertones the film pushes forward to its audience.

In terms of performances, my standout would have to go to Catherine Keener, or hypnotherapist/psychologist Missy Armitage. You might also know her as Trish Piedmont, the woman Steve Carell’s gets to “know” in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Oddly enough, I found her performance to be in the same vain as Kathy Bates’ role (super-fan Annie Wilkes) in Rob Reiner’s 1990 Stephen King adaptation of Misery. Both are manipulative and hell-bent on their sinister plans to come to fruition (Annie forcing James Caan’s Paul Sheldon to write her stories and Missy deploying similar tactics to be a part of her cult). Also, the fact that I watched Logan a day ago enabled me to appreciate the power of mind control and the influence it has on others.

So in conclusion, is this a movie that needs to be watched at some point in time? Absolutely. Is it a movie whose thematic content stands against the test of time? Absolutely. Is this going to be the start of a newfound appreciation for psychological thrillers? Perhaps. But one thing is for certain: Get Out is an experience that manages to successfully escape the grip of horror tropes like jump scares, and replaces it with thought-provoking socio-political commentary that challenges the viewer to think about what they have just watched. Just don’t think too deep, or else you might be trapped in an eternal never-ending void, forever.

SCORE: 95/100.