Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pee on yourself! Pee on yourself!

I'm currently reading Ghost Boy, the memoir of a South African man named Martin Pistorius. When Martin was very young, he became sick with a mysterious illness that rendered him damn near non-existent.  As he sat in the corner unable to communicate or show any signs of basic awareness, everyone basically gave up on him. He could twitch, he could drool, but that was about it.

And so he sat there. Unable to let anyone know that his food was too hot, their hands too cold. For over a decade.

Perhaps worst of all, throughout his years in care-based institutions, there were times when he was not only physically abused, but sexually as well. The only solution he could come up with to survive this repeated trauma?

During the worst parts, he floated away into a void of nothingness, praying for the end.

Turns out there's another dire solution to coping with years of abuse, something known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). In M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller Split, this condition is front and center. But instead of a young boy in South Africa named Martin, our story focuses on a young man in Philly named Kevin.

Well, sort of.

When we first meet Kevin, he's actually Barry, one of his twenty-three distinct personalities. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Fletcher, Barry, er, Kevin is a fully-functioning member of society. He has his own place, a steady job, and it seems like he's keeping it altogether. For the most part.

About seventeen miles up the Schuylkill (or three hours, if it's Friday), three teenage girls are abducted in a parking lot at the King of Prussia Mall. They awake to find themselves in some sort of ramshackle chamber, windowless and dreary, minus an oddly impeccable bathroom. While their methodical captor definitely isn't Barry, he sure looks a Hell of a lot like Kevin.

Where Split could have easily been your typical pretty girls trapped by creepy guy hostage film, James McAvoy's fantastically unhinged performance elevates it to something much more inviting and tasty. The big reveal initially didn't make any f--king sense (or at least what I thought was the big reveal), but as in many of Shyamalan's films, you just got to hang in there till the very end. It may not be the dick-punch that was the The Sixth Sense, but it's high-quality ball tap, to say the least.

Professor X: The Upright Pedophile Years vol. 2: Walking and Stalking
Also hurting your genitals in a variety of fashions, are the Yays and Boos. We decided to pull the rare Tuesday night cinema run, and were shocked to find the biggest auditorium in our shitty-little town entirely sold out. Good thing I have no friends and a cool wife. Cause the other way around would be the worst. I think.

Over here! Come over here! My van is totally safe!
(for the record, I don't have a you can still visit this site)
  • I'm not sure about Moms, but Dads come off as pretty cool dudes in this one. Even the dorky guy in the beginning...
  • Dr. Fletcher! Thank God for Betty Buckley in this one. After that old lady's performance in The Visit [review], it's nice to see someone older than forty thrive in a Shyamalan thriller. Very much enjoyed the character and the performance (even if this chick is waaaay too chill about a lot of stuff).
  • All the personalities that Kevin exhibits (inhabits?) are interesting, but hands down my main man Hedwig is the best of the bunch. This little kid is f--king fantastic. And his dance moves? Unrivaled. Hell, just watching them, I'm pretty sure I got pregnant. Et cetera.
  • The idea that the personalities have different strengths and weaknesses is so f--king rad. 
  • The cameo did not disappoint, even if I'm not sure who the Hell that guy was (or why they have a camera on where people put out the trash).
  • The imagery of all the personalities sitting around in chairs waiting to step forward into the light was just about perfect. I always imagined all the personalities running into each other Braveheart-style.
  • So, this is ultimately a Boo, but my goodness is Anya Taylor-Joy gorgeous (and, ahem, a great actress). It pains me to oogle someone so young, but like any pervert worth his salt, I'm no quitter.
  • There's some kind of reverse Beetlejuice-thing happening here, isn't there? Dig that.
  • Yay! You've got a knife. Finally pay this prick back for all the- erp, nevermind. 
  • And finally, that ending. I wasn't exactly stoked with the entire movie before it (I had some major problems with certain aspects, you know?), but when that final scene unfolded? Pure f--king elation.  It's the best diner scene since Swingers. Oh, so I'm the asshole now?
Nothing ominous here.
  • Look, I get it. Phones are, like,, something. But, you might want to look up on occasion. Just to make sure the guy dropping your friends off knows where they live.Wait. Check that. Just make sure the guy in your car is your f--king dad, okay?
  • Hey, while we're telling Hedwig that intimate secret, I've also got something I want to whisper to you: run you motherf--kers! Run!
  • Why does someone always end up in a confined place where they have to basically hold their breath? *shudder* Can't somebody, one time, hide in a bounce house? Or a Q'doba?
  • My wife's a bit of a germaphobe, too. But, uh...she's not asking me to take my pants off. (and really, M. Night? These couldn't have been college girls?)
  • On that note, however, um, what's with Taylor-Joy's Casey wearing all those damn layers? If this was strip poker, she's pretty much waving a Dikembe Mutombo finger right in all our faces.
  • Hey, Walkie-talkie Guy, maybe this isn't a joke?
  • Initially, I liked her uncle. Then I wanted him set on fire and swung around by his testicles.
  • Worst. Window. Ever.
  • Between you and me, sometimes I have to use a hangar in rather...awkward situations. If only I was this skilled.
  • So, that's what you like to eat, huh? Really? I'm pretty sure Philly has a couple of Taco Bells. You could totally chill with some Chalupas...and probably have a lot more friends. Just saying.
  • And finally, at this point, I'm pretty much demanding another one. Another contemporary M. Night Shyamalan film. Yep. I need that sumbitch, like, yesterday. Wait, what?
I'm almost near the end of Ghost Boy, and Martin has made it through one Hell of a journey. He has not only vastly improved his entire situation, but there is now a brilliant woman in his life (and it's consensual, no less!).

I'm not sure the same could be said for Kevin, though. 

Or Barry. Or  Hedwig. Or that last guy. 

But everyone's going to notice what they're up to.



  1. That book you're reading sounds devastating.

    I spoiled myself for this one and I don't really understand the big reveal so to speak, I'll watch this eventually with low expectations.

    Great review!

    1. Yeah, it's intermittently devastating and uplifting. There's a rad 13 minute NPR story called Ghost Boy if you want the short version of the whole thing. It's incredible, too.

      I'd say it's worth seeing for McAvoy's performance alone. And that Taylor-Joy chick, too. Goodness.


  2. Holy shit the story of Martin Pistorius shook me to my core! The podcast Invisibilia (which I love) did a segment about him ( that was heart-wrenching. The kind of nightmare scenario I find so hard to wrap my mind around - kind of like being abducted and held captive.

    I enjoyed Split. It had some weird bits but overall was very thrilling. The very end was definitely unexpected! Not quite a twist, but more of a spin on the events of the movie. The whole time I was trying to figure out some grand twist and totally overthought everything.

    1. JESS! YES! I first heard that story on Invisibilia a few years back and it almost made me drive off the road! Insanity (and the book is waaaaaay more intense, too!)

      I enjoyed it, too. I began to drift away during the middle, not because it was boring or was simply a very slow build. Very slow. I think I'm with you on the twist as well, as I thought it was the thing on the train...which didn't exactly thrill me. But the end? Erased all my doubts!

      Thanks for the comment!!

  3. I nearly crapped myself when you know what started playing, I love that theme and the movie it comes from so much

    1. If you're talking about what I think you're talking about....

      ...I have no idea.

      Did they really tip their hand with the score? If so....that's amazing! (and if not, and I'm totally wrong...kindly disregard this message)

    2. The track that starts playing before the title card appears in the end, near the end of mirror scene, is from most likely the most memorable scene from the other movie so it's considered a theme

    3. Whoa, really? I don't remember much about whatever it is we're talking about, outside of enjoying the movie. But if I had known what you knew? I probably would've squealed (even louder).

      That's fantastic!

  4. I thought the movie was a lot stronger by the time it got to that final scene. It was good until that point, maybe a little out there, but that final scene, that took it home for me. I've asked so many ppl who've seen this, if they got that final scene, and they didn't.. they had no idea, no glue.. and I guess that makes me a little proud because fck yeah, I got it and I got to experience something that not everyone did!

    PS: I think the layers were a very thoughtful choice.. Her past and her actions towards her body - all those things contributed towards wearing a lot of layers. And can't remember, but wasn't it Hedwig who pointed it out, that she wears a lot of layers, drawing more attention to that detail.

    1. It lost me with the 24th identity...initially. I thought that was the twist and I my adoration for everything else that came before waned. But with that final scene? I wanted to hi-five everyone in the theater...even though I don't think any of them knew what the Hell was going on!

      The layers were absolutely thoughtful and made perfect sense. And calling attention to them was a nice bit of foreshadowing. The thing is...well, I'm basically, at least mentally, still in high school. Hence my issue with all the layers.