Disturbing Netflix Sci-Fi Thriller Stands Alone In Controversial Trilogy

By Jacob VanGundy | Published


As the middle movie of M. Night Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy, Split stands out with a darker tone and genre. While the rest of the trilogy is firmly within the superhero genre, the second film is a chilling psychological thriller. It is also one of Shaymalan’s strongest films.



Split centers on Kevin, a man diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, who kidnaps a group of teenage girls. The various alternate personalities interact with the kidnapped girls as they try to escape, some being hostile while others are friendly. Kevin’s therapist regularly meets with him throughout the film giving the viewer a look into his fractured psyche and slowly revealing the true sci-fi nature of Kevin’s condition.

McAvoy Is At His Absolute Best


Because Split is mostly focused on Kevin and his alters, it’s very reliant on the performance of James McAvoy. Fortunately, McAvoy delivers a stunning performance, transitioning between the various alters inside Kevin and making them all feel like distinct characters. While McAvoy steals the show, Anya Taylor-Joy also gives a stellar performance as Casey, one of the kidnapped girls who connects to Kevin through their shared experiences with abuse. 


Accepting and confronting trauma is ultimately what Split is about. Kevin’s fractured psyche manifested because of childhood abuse and abandonment, elevated to supernatural proportions by the comic book-inspired rules of the universe he lives in. It’s also the driving force for Casey whose character arc revolves around finding the strength to stand up to her abuser. 


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While there are connections to Unbreakable and a final scene that directly ties the movies together Split works just fine as a stand-alone film. Viewers who haven’t watched Unbreakable won’t be missing any crucial information and the film’s ending is conclusive enough to be satisfying for fans who don’t go on to watch Glass. It’s a tense, chilling character study enhanced by its supernatural twist worth watching alone or as part of the trilogy. 

The East 177 Trilogy

Viewing the film as part of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy does recontextualize Split. The end of the movie establishes that Kevin has become known in the media as The Horde, which within the context of the universe establishes him as a supervillain on David Dunn’s radar, putting him in a larger sci-fi universe. This also changes the context of Kevin’s alters, clearly establishing them as manifestations of a superpower and giving a more concrete explanation for his seemingly supernatural abilities.

The Eastrail 177 Trilogy is a small but fascinating superhero universe, and Split’s place in that universe is important. While Unbreakable presented a very grounded take on a superhero, Split gave that hero an equally grounded supervillain to contend with. It opened the universe up for bigger stories, though many fans thought Glass squandered that opportunity

Watch Split, Take The Rest With A Grain Of Salt



For fans of psychological thrillers who don’t like superhero stories, Split works best on its own completely ignoring the other movies in the trilogy. However, fans of superhero stories should watch the entire Eastrail 177 Trilogy with Split being a great second film in a unique series. Regardless of which category you fall into, Split is a must-watch, available to stream on Netflix.