Archive for the ‘Split (2017)’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Universal Studios

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 01:57:07

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio:

5.1 Spanish DTS

5.1 French DTS

Dolby Digital DVS (Descriptive Video Service)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English SDH, French, Spanish

Ratio: 2.39:1

Bitrate: 34.89 Mbps

Note: This release includes a DVD, a digital, and an UltraViolet copy of the film.


“What’s really interesting about [Dissociative Identity] Disorder is that it’s controversial. Even in the field, they’re saying I’m not sure any of this is legit. A lot of people. I believe in it, 100%. It’s interesting—it’s almost like what you’re asking is what the field is asking themselves. How much of this is fact? How much of what you’re saying can be proved? … But everything was [taken] from documented cases. The person who was blind and then some of their identities could see. One identity has diabetes but none of the other identities have diabetes. One has high cholesterol, one doesn’t, one is allergic to bee stings, the rest aren’t. Your body chemistry is so affected by your mind. We know this. We just haven’t been faced with this. We know we can give ourselves an ulcer. We know we can raise our blood pressure. We know that we can give ourselves hives. If we can do those things, what other things can your mind do? We know the placebo effect exists. I so much wanted to make a movie about the placebo effect—were all just walking around, accepting the Placebo Effect? Everybody just knows that a certain percentage of us can cure our diseases because we think we have the cure—but it’s sugar? Your cells are cured! You change your cells.” –M. Night Shyamalan (Empire Online, January 24, 2017)

Despite some somewhat ridiculous negative publicity surrounding the film’s portrayal of Kevin’s Dissociative Identity Disorder (for alleged stigmatization of the mental illness), Split can safely be called an enormously successful thriller. It asks interesting questions while also delivering a well-balanced and suspenseful blend of dark comedy and horror. This film is M. Night Shyamalan’s strongest effort in well over a decade—topping even The Visit, which was considered a return to form for the director.

Much has been written about James McAvoy incredible performance in the film but Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Casey Cooke is just as noteworthy. Casey is an outsider dealing with an unknown troubled past. This sounds like yet another genre cliché, but Shyamalan uses this genre trope differently than we have seen it used in the past. He doesn’t use her backstory in order to give the superficial impression of a three-dimensional character. Her backstory is woven into the very fabric of his story and its various themes.

“The conversation was about the things that happen to us, that change us. Is that bad? Is it always true that being normal is the right place? That non-suffering is the way of life, you know? I think Casey’s character feels that as well: she feels detached from everyone because she feels so different. She’s had a different experience. These kind of healthy girls that she’s with, she can’t really relate to them. They’re not mean—they’re actually really nice. It’s the flip of a [conventional] horror movie—normally, they’re bad girls who are having sex and doing drugs, so they get killed. It’s a flip in this movie: you’re in a life—threatening situation because you’re good. I was explaining this to everyone; ‘These are the nice girls.’” –M. Night Shyamalan (Den of Geek, January 17, 2017)

One doesn’t want to be too specific (it would be a crime to give too much away before allowing readers to see the film)—but when one really considers some of the thematic concerns hiding beneath the surface of Split, it isn’t terribly surprising to learn that the roots of the project reach all the way back to Unbreakable.

“I wrote this character [Kevin] and a bunch of the scenes you saw in the movie for the Unbreakable script. He was the original antagonist and David Dunn was going to meet him in the original script. I couldn’t get it right. I couldn’t get the balance right. It just kept wanting to eat away at the other movie, [so] I pulled Kevin out. I wanted a really slow burn movie and Kevin’s not a slow burn. I said, ‘let me pull him out for a second and concentrate on these other two characters.’ I came up with the idea for Elijah [Mr. Glass]. He was always an advisor. The three of them were always in it but he went from benevolent advisor to the opposite of David Dunn! It became so obvious. Then I said I’d do this next as the next piece in this, but I guess I felt that the reaction at the time was weird and wonky to Unbreakable—especially in the United States. ‘What is this? A movie about comic books?’ The studio didn’t want to sell it as comic books because they felt comic books were not sellable… Ironically now, Disney, that’s all they do.” –M. Night Shyamalan (Empire Online, January 24, 2017)


Bruce Willis as David Dunn in Unbreakable (2000)

It seems that early drafts of Unbreakable found David Dunn (Bruce Willis) bumping into one of Kevin’s alter egos instead of bumping into the man in the orange suit. He then went to save the girls.

“Some of the Kevin Wendell Crumb scenes were already completely written all the way back then. One of the ‘Patricia’ scenes, the ‘Hedwig’ introduction scene—those were written over 15 years ago. I have them written by hand in my notebooks.” –M. Night Shyamalan (Entertainment Weekly)

This is quite a revelation. This reviewer has always felt that Unbreakable ties with The Sixth Sense as M. Night Shyamalan’s best film and it has legions of other fans who bombard the director with questions about a follow-up. After watching Split, the chances of this happening suddenly seem somewhat likely. We only hope that M. Night Shyamalan hires Eduardo Serra as a cinematographer to help him capture the film’s fluid camera style and James Newton Howard to write a follow-up to his original score… I am digressing but this digression is relevant—and those wondering why this is relevant will have to watch the film.


The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

 Universal protects the discs in a standard Blu-ray case with a sleeve featuring better than average film-related artwork. The case itself is protected with a slipcover showcasing the same artwork.


The disc’s static menu features artwork from the film’s original one-sheet accompanied by music from the film. It is both attractive and easy to navigate.


Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

Mike Gioulakis’ digital cinematography is perfectly represented here with excellent clarity. Noise is never an obvious issue (even if it is present in a few scenes). Fine detail is always impressive as fabrics, textures, pores, wrinkles and a vast array of minutia are easily visible throughout the duration of the film. Colors accurately reflect those seen in theaters and are mostly subdued with certain exceptions (like the yellow in Hedwig’s jacket). Contrast is accurate and black levels are deep without unintentional crushing. Universal’s maxed out bitrate keeps compression issues from marring the image. This is simply an outstanding transfer from Universal!


Sound Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio offers exactly what genre fans desire and expect from a surround mix. It manages to be simultaneously subtle and dynamic while each of the elements including dialogue, effects, sonic ambiance, and music are well prioritized. This is an excellent representation of the film’s theatrical mix and has very much the same effect.


Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Deleted Scenes – (14:37)

Scenes with optional Introductions by M. Night Shyamalan – (26:37)

This collection of scenes deleted from the final cut of the film (together with the Alternate Ending) is by far the most substantial supplement included here, and the fact that they include short contextual introductions by Shyamalan only sweetens the deal. Unfortunately, it seems that there is quite a bit of deleted footage that wasn’t included here. M. Night Shyamalan has revealed in various interviews that the original rough cut of the film was three-hour hours in length—and it is difficult not to feel short-changed by these fourteen and a half minutes of deleted material. Where are the other 45 minutes?

One of the absent deleted sequences is now legendary in fan circles and would have made Unbreakable fans very happy indeed:

“There was another version of the credit sequence which was [a] comic book, which was graphic images of The Beast and then David Dunn and then Elijah and then them all mixing together. When I saw it done I was like, ‘This is a fucking home run,’ and then when I put it on the movie it didn’t work… It’s one thing to say, ‘You saw an origin story,’ but to go into other characters… David Dunn is reacting to the news of The Horde. End of story. If you keep going it starts to undermine the movie you just saw.” –M. Night Shyamalan (We Got This Covered)

However, even though there is much missing from this collection, the nine scenes included on the disc are both entertaining and instructive:

Casey at Party – (01:14) or (02:52)

This scene originally opened the film and features an out of place Casey at a birthday party. The scene obviously would have led directly to the sequence that ended up beginning the film. It is really a pretty strong character moment.

Meeting Shaw – (02:07) or (04:03)

This scene is one of three deleted scenes to feature Shaw—a character deleted from the film’s final cut. Shaw is Dr. Karen Fletcher’s neighbor and a professor with knowledge of the human brain. Fletcher obviously has an inappropriate crush on Shaw and their scenes together highlight her loneliness. This and the other two scenes also deliver information about the power of the human brain to the audience.

Shaw Has a Party – (02:17) or (03:15)

This scene occurs at Shaw’s apartment during a get-together and finds Dr. Fletcher feeling slightly jealous of three other women while also feeding more information to the audience.

Shaw’s Date – (02:16) or (03:49)

The final scene finds Dr. Fletcher calling on Shaw when he is about to go on a date. His date argues with her about Dissociative Identity Disorder and this leads to an awkward moment between Fletcher and Shaw. All three of the “Shaw” scenes are interesting, but it is easy to see why they were deleted from the film.

Girls Talk – (00:52) or (02:02)

Some of this short scene features in the film’s theatrical trailer (which is inexplicably left off of the disc) and is a short dialogue between the three kidnapped girls about their kidnapper’s intentions.

Patricia Talks Meat – (01:56) or (03:24)

This is an extended scene with new content—including creepy dialogue about the feeding habits of animals and the number of teeth in a tiger’s mouth—but it is essentially about Casey trying to persuade Patricia to let them eat their meal in the kitchen area (so that she can leave the room).

Casey Tells Her Dad – (01:13) or (02:30)

This is a deleted flashback that finds a younger Casey telling her Dad that she doesn’t want her Uncle to go with them on hunting trips.

Hide and Seek with Hedwig – (01:48) or (02:35)

This is an extension of a scene in the film where Hedwig plays “hide and seek” with Casey before leading her to his room.

Maybe We Are Crazy – (01:03) or (02:14)

Dennis questions their plan after attacking Dr. Fletcher.

Alternate Ending – (00:32)

 Scene with optional Introduction by M. Night Shyamalan – (01:37)

The Horde looks down at school children from the top of a building lamenting about “all those unbroken souls.” It is a much darker ending in some ways but it is also a much weaker image than what is in the final film. It is very interesting to see what was originally envisioned.

The Making of Split – (09:50)

This isn’t the comprehensive look behind the making of Split that fans will be anticipating. It is really more of a catch-all general discussion about the film put together from the usual navel-gazing EPK material. One feels that this release really deserves a bit more than a ten-minute discussion that reveals about a minutes worth of worthwhile information.

The Filmmaker’s Eye: M. Night Shyamalan – (03:40)

The Filmmaker’s Eye is a standard EPK promo camouflaged to look like a discussion about M. Night Shyamalan’s working methods—it utilizes some of the same interview clips found in the “making of” featurette and the information could’ve been included as part of the “making of” piece.

The Many Faces of James McAvoy – (05:38)

The Many Faces of James McAvoy is yet another short EPK that repeats a few clips from the other segments and never really delves any deeper than “James McAvoy was perfect casting and gave an excellent performance.” It’s nice to have it here but—like the piece on Shyamalan—this could’ve been included as part of the “making of” featurette.

Someday, we hope that Blu-ray producers will learn that quality trumps quantity. They aren’t fooling anyone.


Final Words:

Split is a fun thriller that solidifies M. Night Shyamalan’s return to form and Universal’s Blu-ray release contains excellent image and sound transfers of the film!


Review by: Devon Powell