M. Night Shyamalan has been producing, writing and directing films for over a decade now, and he has gained a decent sized cult following; however, there are, and always will be, naysayers out there. Some people say they are tired of his predictability and the “twist endings.” Where other viewers thrive on that, waiting for Shyamalan to come out with another film.
Like most of his films, Shyamalan doesn’t throw his viewers into some chaotic mess, as in most horror/psychological thrillers do. On the other hand, he eases us into the minds of the characters and lets them develop, rather than letting them go on to die later. Then we, as viewers, have no real connection to them. The actors/actresses in the film well represented the characters that they played. James McAvoy, most of all. His portrayal of a man with 23/24 personalities was pretty spot-on, not that I have any experience with multiple personalities, just what I’ve seen in movies. You could tell which personality was around just by McAvoy’s mannerisms, facial expressions and vocal inflection.
I can’t help but always think of James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus from the Narnia film. Despite that role, and the others he has portrayed, this character, or rather characters, will always stick in my mind. We don’t meet all of the personalities that live within the man known as Kevin, but the ones that do make it “into the light” certainly will make an impression on anyone who sees the film. One of the most interesting things to me while watching the film is that each personality will have their own clothes, different shoes, and ways of wearing the clothes.
There is only one person that truly believes in the multiple personalities, also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Kevin’s doctor, Dr. Fletcher, believes that all of her patients are “more” than merely human. As in, perhaps all of the identities within Kevin are real. They are not merely something Kevin made up in his mind to protect himself from whatever abuse he endured as a child. They have their own disabilities and body strengths. One “alter,” as Dr. Fletcher calls them, has to take insulin shots, whereas another one has OCD, and then there’s a 9-year-old boy named Hedwig. I don’t want to give too much away, but the personalities within Kevin are very important to the film.
Casey: The Final Girl
In most horror films, there is the character known as the Final Girl, the one girl that gets away because she has what it takes to make it out alive. Casey, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, is among two other girls that get abducted by Kevin/Dennis. I believe she wasn’t even supposed to be there. If she hadn’t, then there might not have been a film. Casey is forever changed by this experience, which is most obviously noticed when we see her at the end of the film. She knows how to survive because she is unlike the two other girls she is held captive with. She has endured suffering from a very young age, and the full extent of her pain isn’t really known until the end of the film.
There are parts in the film where Dennis makes the girls take off pieces of their clothes because they get dirty (Dennis is the one with OCD). Casey wears several layers of clothing, whereas the girls are in bras or undershirts and panties very quickly. In my opinion, the shedding of the layers is meaningful. The other two girls don’t have much to offer, which is why they don’t have many layers. Casey, on the other hand, isn’t fully revealed until she sheds the last layer of her clothing, where she only has on a mid-drift tank top and pants. The girls never get fully naked, but that’s not important to the film.
The Twist Ending
As I said before, M. Night Shyamalan has a penchant for having a twist ending. You go in wondering what it’s going to be, because you know it’s going to happen. However, the twist ending of this Shyamalan film is different. It is because we believe this is real life, we believe The Beast isn’t real. In my opinion, the themes of this film are denial and acceptance. The denial comes from all of us, we don’t see what’s truly in front of us. The acceptance comes later, when it’s too late.
This film was amazing. It’s a new world for M. Night Shyamalan, considering people liked this film a lot more than some of his last productions. I’ve always been a fan, the way he tells stories on film is like no other. I loved Lady in the Water, and sometimes I still want to watch Signs. His stories convey regular people in awesome circumstances and give us a chance to use our imaginations beyond what we think we can.