Back to IndieWire

‘Split’: M. Night Shyamalan Explains the Thriller’s Shocking Twist Ending

The James McAvoy-starring film is now in theaters.




M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller “Split” follows James McAvoy as Kevin, a man with 23 discrete personalities, all different and dangerous with agendas of their own. The story follows him as he kidnaps three teenage girls and holds them hostage in his basement. The girls soon begin to meet each personality, with the final persona being the most terrifying of them all.

The film looks to be Shyamalan’s big return after a string of disappointments like “The Happening” and “After Earth.” “Split” has critics excited, with some, like io9, saying that the film has the “best twist since ‘The Sixth Sense.'” The website spoke with the director about the shocking ending, that may surprise and excite many M. Night fans.

Readers beware, if  you have not seen “Split,” turn away.


[Editor’s Note: MAJOR spoilers for “Split” follow. Proceed at your own risk.]

READ MORE: ‘Split’ Trailer: M. Night Shyamalan Unleashes 23 Different Versions Of James McAvoy In Wild Kidnapping Thriller

In “Split,” McAvoy’s character develops a 24th personality that is called The Beast, a superhuman who is strong, fast and develops a taste for human flesh. At the end, the press nicknames Kevin “The Horde” and in one of the final scenes there is an exchange between a woman and none other than David Dunn, the character in Shyamalan’s 2000 thriller “Unbreakable” portrayed by Bruce Willis.

The filmmaker revealed that “Split” is a sort of spinoff, sequel story set in the “Unbreakable” universe where The Horde is the villain. The director revealed that this was always his plan and that the idea for “Split” came when he was writing “Unbreakable.” Kevin was actually featured in an early version of the script but was later removed.

“I had about 15-20 pages written [focusing on Kevin] and those scenes are all in [‘Split’],” Shyamalan told io9. “I said ‘Can we make a sequel that they don’t realize 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? So that was the idea from go.”

READ MORE: ‘Split’ Review: James McAvoy Is the Best Thing About M. Night Shyamalan’s Kidnapping Thriller — Fantastic Fest

When Shymalan told Willis about the idea for “Split” the actor agreed to reprise his role of Dunn. “I called him and told him and he said ‘I’m there,’” Shyamalan said. “He was so sweet, he flew down and shot that for the day.”

He also added that Samuel L. Jackson knows that his character Elijah Price might be revived in the near future and that he’s also had talks with Touchstone, the studio that originally released “Unbreakable.”

“I’ve had all those conversations and it’s all good,” Shyamalan revealed. “For me it’s just about going back in the room, closing the door and hoping the demons don’t beat me.”

For now, the “Unbreakable” universe’s future is now in the hands of moviegoers. “Split,” now in theaters, took in an impressive $2 million in Thursday night showings in North America and will expand to over 3,000 theaters on Friday.

Check out the trailer below.

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox