M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Split, is now in theatres and wow, is that a relief. It means that, for the first time since we saw the film in September, I can finally talk about the film's incredible ending — and not only that, but discuss it with director M. Night Shyamalan himself, who explains the reasoning behind what is arguably his best twist since The Sixth Sense. We promise you, you do not want to miss this.
James McAvoy plays Kevin in Split, the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan. We hear this one has a surprise ending. Images: Universal
Well, we promise you don't want to miss this article unless you haven't seen Split yet, because this is one of those massive spoilers that will almost certainly affect your viewing experience. But if you're on the fence about seeing Split, discovering the twist will very likely make you want to see it. It's your call. But you have been warned.
OK, so, the big twist of Spilt is... you know what? It's so good. We really, really don't want to ruin this for anyone so, how another warning, plus a photo.
OK, let's do this.
In Split, James McAvoy's character Kevin develops a 24th personality: The Beast, which is superhuman. He's super strong, super fast and basically bulletproof. After Kevin/The Beast gets away from a kidnapping, it's revealed that the press has nicknamed the man with dissociative identity disorder "The Horde" — which gets him noticed by David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis himself. And now the words I've been dying to type since September:
SPLIT IS AN UNBREAKABLE MOVIE.
Well, it's kind of a sequel, kind of a spinoff, kind of a side, supervillain origin story, all rolled into one. But it's definitely set in the Unbreakable universe, where The Horde is its newest villain.
According to Shyamalan, that was always the plan. In fact, the idea for Split came out of the earliest versions of Unbreakable. The character of Kevin, a man with multiple personalities, was in the early version of the script. However, during development, Shyamalan realised a third main character was too much. "I had about 15-20 pages written [focusing on Kevin] and those scenes are all in [Split]," Shyamalan told us.
So when he started working on this movie, the idea to bring that character back and tie it into the world Unbreakable, giving fans the sequel they have been clamouring for for years, was foremost on his mind.
"I said, 'Can we make a sequel that they don't realise is a sequel? Can we make an origin story without telling them it's an origin story until the last moment of the movie? So it plays as a thriller and becomes an origin story?'" he explained. "So that was the idea from go."
On the more logistical side, when the director told Bruce Willis about the idea of him reprising his Unbreakable role, the actor was immediately on board. "I called him and told him and he said, 'I'm there,'" Shyamalan revealed. "He was so sweet, he flew down and shot that for the day."
The director also told us that Samuel L. Jackson is aware one of his old characters (the villainous Mr Glass, also referenced at the end of Split) might be revived at some point in the future. Plus Touchstone, the company that originally released Unbreakable (which was under the Disney and DreamWorks umbrella) is aware that a third film could be coming. (Universal released Split.)
"I've had all those conversations and it's all good," Shyamalan said. "For me it's just about going back in the room, closing the door and hoping the demons don't beat me."
So if they don't, and if Split is a hit, maybe we'll finally get a true Unbreakable sequel. For now, though, Unbreakable fans will have to settle for the fact Split's surprise connection is one of the most exciting things to happen inside a movie theatre in a long time.