‘Split’ Director M. Night Shyamalan On Shocking Fans With A Dark Throwback

M. Night Shyamalan is known for bringing wild twists to already compelling thrillers, and some have even grown to hate the director for his surprise endings, but Split may be one of those rare films to perfectly showcase Shyamalan as a gifted storyteller. M. Night Shyamalan recently opened up about his use of macabre humor and a surprise Split climax that raises the bar, even among his own past successes. Not only does the Split director open up about why elements of dark humor work so well with this story, but Shyamalan also reveals why James McAvoy was perfect for the Split role(s) and how they all worked together to pull off that shocking twist.

In Split, M. Night Shyamalan Delivers Twists And Compelling Characters, Along With Some Laughs

Split, M Night Shyamalan, James McAvoy
‘Split’ director M. Night Shyamalan says his blend of horror and humor works well with James McAvoy. [Image by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images]

Fans of M. Night Shyamalan will be all too familiar with his brand of storytelling from films like Signs, The Sixth Sense, and The Village, so, as C-Net points out, most should be able to guess that Split isn’t the average thriller about a mad serial killer. Even with James McAvoy playing up to nine personalities, including Hedwig, Patricia, Dennis, and The Beast, the twists and turns in Split are enough to keep audiences on the edges of their seats in a literal sense.

There are those who criticize Split for following Hollywood’s inclination to exploit mental illness for the purpose of delivering scares, while others still question the need for making more movies about hunting down barely-clothed teen girls.

To those critics, M. Night Shyamalan says Split is his attempt to expound on his own “provocative” sense of “dark humor” in a setting which would also allow him to deliver a film to mainstream audiences that would force them to face the reality of trauma.

M. Night Shyamalan Exposes That Climactic Twist At The End Of Split

M Night Shyamalan, Split, Unbreakable
M. Night Shyamalan teases a connection between ‘Split’ and ‘Unbreakable.’ [Image by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images]

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead. If you haven’t seen the film, you might want to stop reading right now.

To put Split in its proper context, Entertainment Weekly explains that Shyamalan chose to set the film within the same universe as Unbreakable, and, in fact, Night reveals that the original script for Unbreakable would have had David Dunn (Bruce Willis) confronting Kevin (McAvoy’s Split character) much earlier. Saved from that first project 15 years earlier, Shyamalan reveals he had much of the scenes already written for Split, explaining that the Unbreakable references in this more recent film are there for good reason.

M. Night Shyamalan says the scene referencing Bruce Willis’ character in Unbreakable, as it’s placed in Split, was always going to be there, but he did question the placing of that scene.

“It was always at the end. But there was a question whether it would be one scene from the end, like within the pocket of the movie, and then have James’ scene in the mirror? Or run credits and put it at the end of the end credits? I tried all those variations but this was the best version,” explains the Split director.

As Split premiered to audiences, M. Night Shyamalan hints that he found great delight in the reactions of the audiences, particularly those familiar with Unbreakable. The Split director recounts the moment the film’s viewers came to understand what was going on.

“The movie’s over, you all know that in the audience, but now I’m playing you Unbreakable music, James Newton Howard’s great score,” recalls M. Night Shyamalan. “A third of the audience is like, ‘Wait, what’s happening?’ Their minds are kind of reeling. I screened it in Austin in September at Fantastic Fest and when the woman says the word ‘wheelchair,’ the place freaked out. Some people in the audience were screaming out ‘Mr. Glass’ before Bruce Willis even appeared.”

The Split director also revealed that this Split/Unbreakable sequence at the end of the film wasn’t just meant to be an Easter egg for his fans. There’s hope that M. Night will finally make good on his promise to deliver an Unbreakable sequel. Following that Split ending, Shyamalan says he’s already working on a script for a third film with plans to make the story into a trilogy.

Split is currently showing in theaters.

[Featured Image by Universal Pictures]