Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
A film that defies expectations. There is a series of events that usually happen in stories where people are abducted for an unknown reason by an unstable figure. You start off with confusion, then a bare understanding of the captor's motives, a few escape attempts only to be punished by the captor, etc. M. Night Shyamalan's comeback film though it is within the parameters of the captor premise somehow changes everything while still following the formula.
Three girls are taken by a man we know as Dennis. And Barry, Patricia, Hedwig, and Kevin (James McAvoy). The girls, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sulu) are trapped in an underground room and Dennis routinely visits them. Out of the three women, Casey is who we follow, she becomes our eyes for much of the film.
This film while is about escape it is really about the broken. Kevin is a very broken man as from a young age he was abused by his mother and as a way to protect him other personalities took the light so that Kevin didn't have to go through that turmoil. Dennis and Patricia are the strong ones, the ones that can take the abuse and the other 20 or so personalities to an extent are weaker than them. Casey, though she does not have multiple personalities has also gone through childhood abuse by her uncle (Brad William Henke) so she is also broken. These two people went through so much trauma but found different ways of coping with it.
James McAvoy is simply suburb here, these roles tend to be the goldmine for character actors and he really sunk his teeth into every personality. There are so many intricate differences between them all, McAvoy is even able to play a personality pretending to be another personality. But I had no reason to believe he couldn't take on this role and thrive. Taylor-Joy is also interesting here, this is her third performance that I have had the pleasure of seeing and just like in The Witch she really knows how to stand out on film.
I think we can say from here that Shyamalan has redeemed himself. He was put together a succinct mind thriller that makes sense, is captivating, and even without any last minute twists works really well as a linear told story.