M. Night Shyamalan is in the midst of a comeback. The writer-director of the blockbuster films Signs and The Sixth Sense has found new life in the world of low budget horror. “The biggest advantage of working with smaller budgets is that I have total creative freedom,” says Shyamalan. “There’s no financial pressure, compared to my previous films, and I can pursue ideas that might be considered offensive if I was making a one hundred million dollar film.”
Shyamalan’s last film, 2015’s The Visit, brought the writer-director his best reviews in more than a decade. The Visit was also a big commercial success, especially compared to its five million dollar production budget. Now Shyamalan has reteamed with The Visit’s producer, low budget maven Jason Blum, on Split, a psychological horror film inspired by Shyamalan’s long fascination with the concept of multiple personalities. “I’ve always been interested in how the brain works, and I’ve always been intrigued by DID [Dissociative identity disorder],” says Shyamalan. “I’ve always been fascinated with the elements of psychology and why we believe what we believe.”
In Split, James McAvoy plays Kevin, a man whose mind houses more than twenty different personalities, twenty-four to be exact. “It was a difficult role, and I needed an actor with an incredible skill set,” says Shyamalan. “I first met James when he was promoting the last X-Men film at the 2015 Comic-Con, and when I saw him he had approximately half an inch of hair on his head. This gave him an appearance that was easily adaptable to various characters, personalities. He looked like he could become anyone he wanted to, which was perfect, in terms of what I was looking for.”
In September, I had the chance to talk to Shyamalan by phone about the diverse cinematic influences and techniques he brought to Split, his long fascination with human psychology, and the surprising career shift he’s experienced in recent years.
DG: Where did the idea for Split come from?
M. Night Shyamalan: I’d had the idea for several years. I keep journals, which are filled with ideas for possible films, and one of those journals was full of ideas about split personality disorders. I’ve always been intrigued by DID, multiple personality disorder, and how the brain works. I’d say that my biggest genre influence was The Silence of the Lambs, which is one of my favorite films.
DG: Where do Kevin’s multiple personalities come from?
M. Night Shyamalan: Kevin’s childhood was full of abuse and trauma, and the different personalities entered him at different points in his life to help him cope with what was happening to him. Kevin, the real Kevin, is a very kind man. The personalities inside of him cover a wide range of emotions. Some of them are very entertaining, fun people, and some of them aren’t much fun to be around.
DG: Why did you pick James to play the role of Kevin?
M. Night Shyamalan: I knew this was a daunting role, and I knew that I needed an actor who possessed a vast range of skills. I needed an actor who could have a squeaky voice in one scene, be a woman in another scene. I needed someone who could change not only their voice throughout the film but also their physicality.
DG: How does Kevin’s physicality change in the film?
M. Night Shyamalan: DID patients have demonstrated an ability to change their body chemistry, change physically. It’s about believing you’re someone else, first of all, and then pretending that you have extraordinary abilities. For example, DID patients might believe that they possess great strength, which will make them lift heavy weights they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to lift. With Split, I wanted to explore what would happen if a DID patient like Kevin believed that they possessed supernatural powers. What would happen then? Is it possible? This was the foundation for the script.
DG: How would you describe Kevin’s relationship with his psychologist, Dr. Fletcher, played by Betty Buckley?
M. Night Shyamalan: She tries to help Kevin compact all of his personalities into one being. She’s done extensive research into DID, and she recognizes that Kevin is an extraordinary case. She believes that some DID patients can change their body chemistry, an idea that is dismissed by her colleagues. Different personalities visit her at different times. Some aren’t allowed to see Dr. Fletcher.
DG: Is there a supernatural explanation for what happens to Kevin in the film?
M. Night Shyamalan: Maybe. These patients with DID can change their body chemistry. They believe this. A patient who believes they’re a 250 pound weightlifter will exhibit incredible feats of strength, which defies belief. That’s what happens with DID patients. What if someone with DID thought they had supernatural powers? That’s the approach I took.
Split opens in theaters on January 20.
‘Children of the Corn’ Adaptation Headed to Theaters and Shudder
It’s been almost 40 years since Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton got into it with “He who walks behind the rows,” in Fritz Kiersch’s Children of the Corn, based on a story by Stephen King.
Today, Deadline reports that director Kurt Wimmer’s film will finally get a theatrical release on March 3, with a Shudder streaming release on March 21. But don’t get too excited, because this isn’t a remake or even a reboot. Wimmer has said this version has “almost nothing to do” with King’s original short story or the ’84 movie.
“We went back to the story and free-associated from there,” the director told Variety.
You may also notice the dateline for production is 2020. It was big news at the time that Wimmer was going to shoot his movie in Australia during the height of the COVID pandemic. Through safety protocols including social distancing, they managed to get through it.
Producer Lucas Foster said at the time, “You can theorize all you like about safety protocols, but until you get on set, you don’t really know. But I can now tell you it is impossible to keep a camera crew 1.5 meters apart.”
This updated take on King’s short story doesn’t appear to involve a married couple on a road trip at all. Instead, it is an origin story about how all the adults in the small town met their murderous ends.
“Children of the Corn follows a 12 year old girl in Nebraska who is possessed by a spirit in a dying cornfield. She recruits the other children in her small town to go on a bloody rampage and kill all the adults and anyone else who opposes her. A bright high schooler who won’t go along with the plan is the town’s only hope of survival.” — Deadline
Make sure to keep checking back to iHorror for the trailer once it drops. And let us know whether you like the concept of moving away from the original story, or if you would have liked it to follow King’s short story more closely.
Drew Barrymore Welcomes Allison Williams By Dressing Up Like ‘M3GAN’
Allison Williams star of the breakout hit, M3GAN. The film has brought in a huge and unexpected amounts of money and continues to climb. Right now it is sitting at $125 million and counting. In order to welcome Williams, Barrymore got in full M3GAN gear and served up some dance moves, and acted out other qualities the doll brings to her home.
Barrymore hilariously begins to have technical difficulties with her contact lenses leading to a moment that rivals the contact lens malfunction in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and that is saying a lot.
The synopsis for M3GAN goes like this:
“M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a lifelike doll that’s programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by Gemma, a brilliant roboticist, M3GAN can listen, watch and learn as it plays the role of friend and teacher, playmate and protector. When Gemma becomes the unexpected caretaker of her 8-year-old niece, she decides to give the girl an M3GAN prototype, a decision that leads to unimaginable consequences.“
M3GAN is now playing in theaters everywhere.
Wes Craven’s ‘Red Eye’ is Getting a 4K UHD Release
Wes Craven is a true master of horror. He gave us A Nightmare on Elm Street and a few other timeless classics. Right around the time he dove into Scream he also took flight with a big thriller that scored well with audiences who were all on the edge of their seats. Craven’s Red Eye did well at the box-office and had that word of mouth that kept it in theaters for weeks. Red Eye is now coming to 4K UHD and it is coming with some rad special features.
The synopsis for Red Eye goes like this:
“In the wake of her grandmother’s funeral, hotel manager Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is waiting to fly back home when she meets charming Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) at check-in. She thinks it luck that they’re seated together on the plane, but soon learns otherwise. Jackson hopes to assassinate the head of Homeland Security, but to do so, he needs Lisa to reassign the official’s room number at her hotel. As insurance, Jackson has kidnapped Lisa’s father (Brian Cox).“
The special features for Red Eye break down like this:
The special features for Red Eye goes like this:
New 4K Restoration of the film
Dolby Vision/HDR Presentation of the film
NEW Audio commentary by editor Patrick Lussier
NEW Filmmaker Focus – Wes Craven and Red Eye
NEW Wes Craven: In His Own Words – Featurette
Audio commentary by Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena, and Editor Patrick Lussier
The Making of Red Eye – Featurette
Wes Craven: A New Kind of Thriller – Featurette
Optional English SDH, English, Spanish, and French subtitles for the main feature
Collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments
Are you excited about Red Eye coming to 4K UHD? Paramount Home Media Distribution releases Craven’s classic on March 21.