M. Night Shyamalan’s new film Split is now in theaters, and if you have yet to see it you should probably stop reading this post right now because I am about to spoil the ending and all the twists it includes. You can read our review if you want, but what you should really be doing is making plans to see Split for yourself as soon as possible. You may think you could save a few bucks and not see the film in full for yourselves, but that approach will rob you of a few great surprises that only a master storyteller like Shyamalan can deliver.
I’m just saying — consider yourself warned.
Starting with the big reveal, we now know Split and Shyamalan’s 2000 thriller Unbreakable take place in the same universe. That was Bruce Willis, AKA David Dunn, sitting at the diner, and the man the reporter on television was referring to was Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), AKA Mr. Glass.
If you haven’t seen Unbreakable, or you have and could still use a bit of a refresher, watch the official trailer below:
I’ll save you two hours and post the big ‘Mr. Glass’ sequence as well, but be warned – this pretty much spoils the movie.
Unbreakable was never sold as a potential franchise, though Shyamalan himself has gone on record as saying the film is his personal favorite from his catalog.
So now we have the question of why? Why does David Dunn appear at the end of Split, and why does it happen in a sequence whose presence has no impact on the rest of the film? Why bring reference a movie nearly two decades old that the target demographic for this film has likely not even seen?
Is this the start of Shyamalan’s take on an Avengers-like universe? Is it just Shyamalan being Shyamalan because he knows what we want?
If we look at the film’s true final sequence, where we see McAvoy’s personalities outlining their plans for the future, the answer still remains unclear. Will we see The Beast again?
For now, it seems the answer for that last question is no. Shyamalan’s next film, Labor of Love, follows a widower who embarks on a cross-country trip on foot to prove his love for his late wife.
Just to be clear – Shyamalan has remained quiet on all of this up so far. With the film now in theaters this might change.
My favorite idea is that all of Shyamalan’s films take place in a shared universe that is not all unlike his own personal Twilight Zone. Shyamalan’s universe is one where ghosts exist and people with superhuman abilities carry out quiet lives of frustration. Where aliens are real, but their greatest weakness is the thing that covers more than 90% of our planet. It’s a strange and often terrifying place, which just grew a bit weirder with the introduction of Kevin, Barry, Orwell, Patricia, Dennis, The Beast, and – best of all – Hedwig.
If true, however, then this universe also boasts an apparently endless supply of Shyamalan clones.