Split Parent Guide

Preying on memories of comparable real world crimes, this horror movie may prove disturbing, as well as frightening.

Overall C-

Kevin (James McAvoy) suffers from split-personality disorder. His changing personas become increasingly dangerous and cause him to kidnap three teenaged girls (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula).

Release date January 20, 2017

Violence C-
Sexual Content C+
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Split rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Split PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some language.

Run Time: 106 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Split presents a woman-as-victim plot that may strike fear into many moviegoers. The premise involves three nubile girls being kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) who suffers from a multiple personality disorder. While leaving a birthday party held at a shopping mall the teens are drugged with an aerosol spray and taken to an unknown location where their abductor has access to a variety of locked rooms that are resistant to getaway attempts.

Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), the birthday girl, and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are friends at school and share concerns about fashion and moving in the right social circles. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is reclusive and awkward in crowds, was a pity invite. But now the party is definitely over. Locked in a room with fresh drywall with access to an unusually bright and modern bathroom, Claire and Marcia begin screaming, banging and plotting an escape. Casey, on the other hand, at first appears resigned to their fate. But through a series of flashbacks, we discover this isn’t her first rodeo. Casey’s difficult past unwittingly offers the best defense against the many personalities of their jailor.

Kevin (the character’s legal name) is unable to control which of his 23 personas will be in the “light” at any given moment. Dennis is the hardened initial captor. In a moment he is replaced by Hedwig, a young boy with a lisp. And, on occasion, there’s Patricia, who dons a skirt and heels. However, no matter which personality is on stage, there’s an ominous warning of the arrival of the 24th, known as The Beast.

If you’re left wondering how this unstable guy has managed to evade professional intervention, that answer comes during one of his many visits with his psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley). Usually she meets with Barry, a creative and warm-hearted fashion designer. Although the doctor thinks she has the patient under control, her perceptions are distorted by both an ultraistic and opportunistic vision of the professional benefits she could derive from helping Kevin with his Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Meanwhile, back at the holding site, each failed attempt the girls make to free themselves results in being separated and commanded to remove their sweaters and skirts. (Two of them are eventually left in only bras and underpants.)

Preying on memories of comparable real world crimes, this movie may prove disturbing, as well as frightening, especially for female viewers or those who have personally experienced mistreatment. While never explicitly seen, abusive activity, killings with guns and brute force, and cannibalism are strongly implied, along with brief depictions of gore. When the script shifts to include an almost comic-book-like portrayal of this monstrous situation, it may almost appear to be lacking sympathy for individuals suffering from similar cruelty.

James McAvoy does give an amazing performance as the multi-faceted Kevin, however the movie still ends with an unsettling message: Only those who are damaged themselves have any hope of survival against truly dangerous people.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release January 20, 2017. Updated

Split
Rating & Content Info

Why is Split rated PG-13? Split is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some language.

Violence: While this movie only includes a brief depiction of explicit violence, the theme centers on three teen girls who are in constant peril and under threat of the unknown intentions of a mentally unstable male captor. There are depictions of non-graphic violence including forced confinement involving pushing, restraining and threats. A character shoots a shotgun twice at close range at another character. A child aims a rifle at an adult. A teen girl is threatened with a knife which is pressed into her bare abdomen. Comments allude to cannibalism and a brief gory and graphic depiction of this activity is seen. Characters abusive pasts (as children) are depicted in flashback. A man invites a child to play a hide and seek game, he is dressed only in underwear and commands the young girl to remove her clothes. A young boy is seen hiding from his mother who is threatening physical consequences. In an unseen depiction, a man is physically subdued and his car is stolen. Teen girls are drugged by an aerosol spray. After being attacked by a male, a teen girl has a large wound on her leg. A male kills an elderly woman by holding her tightly until we hear the breaking of bones.

Sexual Content: A male captor orders teen girls to remove certain parts of their clothing; one girl is seen in a bra while the other is in tiny underpants. During a visit with a psychiatrist, this same male captor is identified as one who enjoys “watching teen girls dance naked.” Another discussion with a psychiatrist refers to a time when this male was sexually interfered with by other teen girls. An adult male is seen only in boxer shorts and attempts to lure a young girl into playing a naked hide and seek game. A teen girl briefly kisses an adult male.

Profanity: A partial use of the sexual expletive is heard. Other infrequent profanities include two scatological terms and a Christian expletive. A crude sexual term is used as a non-sexual expletive.

Alcohol / Drug Use: A man uses an aerosol spray to render victims comatose. Brief alcohol use depicted.

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More parents' guide for Split after the break...

Split Parents' Guide

What techniques does this movie employ to create suspense within viewers’ minds? How does confinement work to build this fear? Do you think this movie would be more frightening for certain people? Women vs. men? Teens vs. adults? How might a film touch on fears beyond what might be expected from a “horror” or “thriller” film?

Dr. Fletcher has spent much of her professional career studying people with Dissociative Identity Disorders. Do you think professionals may become too comfortable with subjects that could cause them or others harm? What motivates Dr. Fletcher to continue to believe she can help Kevin? How do her professional aspirations fit into this perception?

News About "Split"

Learn more about Dissociative Identity Disorder, the real name for of the mental illness that causes split personalities.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Split movie is April 18, 2017. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Split
Release Date: 18 April 2017
Split releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras:
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making of Split- Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss what attracted them to the project and how they were able to bring such a unique premise to life.
- The Many Faces of James McAvoy- A look at how James McAvoy approached the challenge of playing so many different identities.
- The Filmmaker’s Eye: M. Night Shyamalan - Director and writer M. Night Shyamalan has a singular, big-picture vision of his projects. Producers, cast, and crew discuss how Night’s process gives them the freedom to execute their roles to the fullest.

Related home video titles:

M. Night Shyamalan is also the creative force behind the movies The Sixth Sense and The Village. The movie 10 Cloverfield Lane offers a similar storyline, that is a little less disturbing.