I have never been a fan of M. Night Shymalan but I decided to go watch the first screening this morning because I learnt from the newspapers that this movie is about multiple personalities inhabiting one person, and I was curious about this Scottish actor called James McAvoy.
The protagonist, Kevin Wendell Crumb, is a “weak” man whose mind is inhabited by 24 personalities (including Dennis, high strung and unstable Patricia, mentally disabled 9-year-old Hedwig, the extroverted model employee Barry , Orwell, Jade and The Beast whom Dennis and Patricia believe in). At the beginning of the movie, he (or his alter, Dennis) abducts three teenage girls in a public carpark. Kevin (who works in a zoo) has a psychological disorder called dissociative identity disorder (DID), the mysterious mental condition also known as multiple personality disorder.
He imprisons these girls in his basement and one of them, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) realises they must use cunning if they want to escape. He is a patient of Dr Karen Fletcher, who believes that such patients have been through trauma (and we only find out near the end what the trauma is), and wants to help them. Unfortunately, her fate is such that I shudder to think specialists like psychiatrists or psychologists end up like her at the end of the movie.
Casey is different because she is “pure”; she is also a social misfit and there are things in Casey’s backstory which not only adds to the atmosphere here but which I feel has the potential to be another story that can be made into a movie on its own. Maybe the new movie can start from where this movie ends – why she is reluctant to leave the police escort when her uncle/legal guardian picks her up after her ordeal.
There is yet another potential sequel to this story – that of the stranger at the cafe watching the news report on TV and the remark he makes in response to the three women’s comments at the bar counter. This actor looks suspiciously like Bruce Willis, who looks a bit like an older version of James McAvoy!
I think no review can do this movie enough justice – it has to be watched and experienced first-hand. It is not a kidnapping movie, nor a creepy movie, nor a horror movie, nor a science movie nor a supernatural movie. It has so many layers that causes different reactions from a viewer.