Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “Split.”
Director M. Night Shyamalan returned to theatres this weekend with a huge hit.
“Split,” featuring James McAvoy as a man with dissociative identity disorder who kidnaps three teenage girls, took in over $40 million at the box office this weekend.
If you were wary of seeing the new film because Shyamalan’s last few movies have missed the mark, don’t be. Shyamalan’s been slowly making a comeback. Not only was he working on Fox’s series “Wayward Pines,” but he also delivered a favourable horror thriller in 2015’s “The Visit.”
While McAvoy is captivating in a lead role — which has him playing multiple personalities — it’s the twist at the film’s very end that you’ll want to stick around for.
Last chance to head back before spoilers.
What happens in “Split”
Though the movie appeared to be a simple kidnapping story from the trailer, the surprise ending called back to a Shyamalan favourite from more than 16 years ago while setting the movie up for potential sequels.
At the end of “Split,” one of the kidnapped teens, Casey, escapes while Kevin (McAvoy) is off in a secluded lair of his own. Suffering from dissociative identity disorder, Kevin takes on a new 24th identity by the film’s end that he refers to as “the beast.” The beast is feral in nature and appears to be supernatural. When the beast comes out, Kevin has heightened agility, speed, can climb walls with ease, and is somewhat bulletproof. The beast also appears to feed on human flesh, a trait that makes him a direct threat to the population at large.
After his escape and Casey’s rescue, the movie turns its attention to patrons in a diner watching a news report. It’s noted that Kevin has now taken the alias of “The Horde” and is acting as some sort of supervillain.
This is where it gets crazy.
One of the customers says the news story reminds her of a man in a wheelchair from about 15 years ago who also went by a “funny” name. As she tries to recall the name, another man says she’s thinking of Mr. Glass. Out from behind the diner bar, it’s revealed that Bruce Willis has been sitting there all along.
Not too many people in the crowded New York City theatre I attended Friday evening seemed to understand the reference, but Shyamalan fans will know that Willis’s cameo was a revival of his character David Dunn from 2000’s “Unbreakable” starring Samuel L. Jackson as his nemesis, Mr. Glass.
The end of “Split” confirmed a few things. First, we weren’t just watching a kidnapping movie — audiences were seeing an origin story for a supervillain all along. It also confirmed “Unbreakable” and “Split” were connected and suggested we could see more of this supernatural world from the director in the future.
Here’s what you need to know about “Unbreakable”
The 2000 film starred Willis as a seemingly normal man until he was the only survivor of a major train crash. Not only that, but he was completely unharmed. Shortly thereafter, he’s introduced to a man called Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that makes his bones very fragile.
Over the course of the film, Dunn is convinced that he was endowed with superhuman strength and abilities. By the movie’s end, Dunn learns that Mr. Glass was the root cause of a bunch of terrorist attacks, including the train crash he was in, as a test to find people with superhuman abilities. As a result, Glass is locked up in an institution.
Willis’s appearance at the end of “Split” suggests he could appear in a forthcoming sequel where he’ll battle The Horde.
You can watch the “Unbreakable” trailer here.
So, will there be a sequel to “Split” or “Unbreakable”?
Shyamalan has been talking about an “Unbreakable” sequel for years. In 2015, he hinted at a movie like “Split” to Screen Rant after saying the idea of making a sequel just for the sake of money was “off-putting as a motivating factor.“
“Now, there’s something that’s percolating in me of an approach that is maybe something of interest to me,” he told Screen Rant. “That’s the best I can say. Something is happening. I can feel it. Something is happening. It would have to be so different than ‘Unbreakable’… a studio would lose their minds because it doesn’t feel at all like a sequel of any kind. It’s just a whole new movie. It would be a wonderful thing. But anyway, I’m thinking about something.”
That “different” approach with “Split” definitely sounds like the route he took.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the director and writer said the “Unbreakable” connection was so secret that it didn’t even appear in test screenings. Shyamalan also revealed that McAvoy’s “Split” character was in the original script for “Unbreakable.”
“I pulled him out because it just wasn’t balancing right. But a bunch of the scenes that are in this movie, I wrote 15 years ago. They were as is,” he explained. “Patricia opening the door. Hedwig’s first scene. Those were all written already.”
He went on to say that he hopes to make one more movie that will combine “Split” and “Unbreakable.” So far, Shyamalan told USA Today he has a 10-page outline for the third movie.
We’re looking forward to it.
“Split” is currently in theatres. You can watch a trailer for it below.
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