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M. Night Shyamalan explains the 'dark humour' of 'Split'

Share a split second with "Split" director M. Night Shyamalan and star Anya Taylor-Joy.

James McAvoy gives great performance(s) in "Split".

John Baer

M. Night Shyamalan, known for his twist-packed suspense thrillers "The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" and "The Village", returns with "Split", a tense chiller about a man at war with himself.

"Split" stars James McAvoy as Kevin... and Dennis, and Patricia and Hedwig, and a host of distinct personalities all sharing one body. McAvoy's character has dissociative identity disorder (DID), a rare and often misunderstood mental health condition that can see a single person swap between distinct personalities.

McAvoy embodies these different personalities with a tour de force performance, shifting from sympathy to menace as the camera lingers on his face. The question of which personality is in charge at any one time generates the film's Hitchcock-like suspense as the chameleonic character(s) kidnap three teenage girls.

Anya Taylor-Joy makes like a banana in "Split".

Universal

Entertaining as it is, "Split" is the latest in a line of Hollywood portrayals of a person with a real mental health issue as a dangerous and scary figure -- and you've got to wonder if we need any more films built around terrorising teenage girls in their underwear.

Shyamalan puts this down to his "provocative" sense of "dark humour" and his desire to "make a mainstream movie about trauma". We shared a split second with the director and star Anya Taylor-Joy to discuss the movie -- hit play on the video to see the interview:

Now Playing: Watch this: A 'Split' second with M. Night Shyamalan
3:10

The film is something of an international effort: Indian-born Shyamalan directs British actor James McAvoy along with Taylor-Joy, who was born in Florida and raised in Argentina and the UK. Thinking about the bitter division that currently splits our political and social landscape -- see what we did there? -- Shyamalan and Taylor-Joy describe themselves as "super-optimists".

"Split" opens in the US and UK on January 20, and Australia on January 26. Don't forget to stick around till the end for the trademark Shyamalan twist...

For more movie madness, check out our guide to the horror movies we're psyched about in 2017. And on the small screen, these are the 40-something TV shows we'll be bingeing this year.

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