This article aims to explain the movie Split and help understand what that Bruce Willis ending meant. Spoilers Ahead. Split is a movie by M. Night Shyamalan, the guy who brought us the amazing Sixth Sense and has been struggling since to amaze us with his other films. I’m not a Shyamalan hater or anything, I commend his attempts over the years and I’ve liked a bunch of his films too. Split stars James Mcavoy in a brilliant role. As seen from the posters, it’s about a guy who has 23 different personalities (DID) in him with an emerging 24th. This is a good film with some fantastic acting from James. Good supporting cast, the three girls – Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula. Let’s get down to business. Here is Unbreakable and Split Explained.
Bruce Willis? Unbreakable Plot Recapped
The crucial part of this movie is the last scene. Let me explain why that is crucial. There was a movie by the name Unbreakable, directed by Shyamalan in 2000. In this film, a man named Elijah (Samuel J Jackson) is searching for someone. Elijah is born with a condition because of which his bones are brittle and weak. As a result, Elijah is referred to as Mr. Glass. Elijah runs a comic store and believes that if there is someone as weak as himself, there must be someone who’s compensatingly strong. Someone unbreakable. He goes around triggering several events and kills hundreds of people (we are not told this until the end). In one such incident, where he sabotages a train, David Dunn is riding back on the said train. There is a rail accident and 131 passengers die. David is safe, not even a scar. Elijah has found his Mr. Unbreakable. Elijah approaches him and explains how David’s got superpowers. David slowly tests his strength and also recalls that he has never fallen sick. He does remember that he almost drowned once when he was young. Elijah explains that just like every superhero has a weakness, David’s Achilles’ heel is water. David also gains the ability of extrasensory perception and he starts sensing the criminal acts people have done soon as he touches them. He takes it onto himself to track down a janitor who has killed a family and kidnapped the children. He saves the children. In the process, David is attacked and pushed into a swimming pool, he nearly drowns. The children pull him out of the pool. David kills the janitor. He later meets Elijah and shakes his hand, for the first time. The Shyamalan twist in the movie is when David and the audience are shown that Elijah has been killing people to locate David. Elijah, Mr Glass, the man on the wheelchair, is arrested.
How is David Dunn connected to Split? Ending Explained
Well, simple. The story of Split is happening in the same universe as Unbreakable, 15 years after. In the last scene when people are watching the news about the kidnapping of the girls, it is mentioned that their kidnapper is alive and out on the loose. One of the ladies recollects a psychopath on a wheelchair who was arrested 15 years back. David is in that diner and mentions that name of the guy in the wheelchair was Mr. Glass.
Why is this last scene so important in the film?
Because the movie Split presents some really radical ideas on how the mind can have an effect on the physical body. While these ideas could be considered “going overboard” in a normal world, this movie is set in a universe which already has superheroes in it. That makes it fantasy and lot of the rules can be broken. Shyamalan has created his mini superhero universe where he’s shown us David (who has extreme strength) and now Kevin (multiple personas with super strength and agility).
This pretty much sets it up for a third part which will feature David and Kevin. But there is no confirmation. This aside, Split (as a standalone film) gives us a lot to take away. Let’s turn to those now.
Split Plot Explained
There are two important people in this story. Kevin (James Mcavoy) and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). When Kevin was young, his dad left on a train and never came back. Was this the same train that David Dunn was on in Unbreakable? We don’t know, could be. Kevin was brought up by his abusive mom. His childhood abuse resulted in him developing a multiple personality disorder (MPD, also referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder – DID). Kevin eventually develops 23 different personalities. Each of these personalities (inside Kevin’s mind) are seated around in chairs and one at a time is allowed to take on the “light”. The light basically means control of Kevin’s body.
The personalities that you need to know are:
Kevin: Is the original self/personality
Barry: He is a fashion designer/artist. He decides who takes control of the “light”.
Dennis: He is the protector of Kevin. Dennis also enjoys watching young girls dance naked. He’s obsessive compulsive because keeping things neat and clean avoided any attention from his abusive mother.
Patricia: She’s a calm British woman. Also one of the leading personalities in Kevin. She’s obsessive compulsive too.
Hedwig: He is a 9-year-old boy. He’s a representation of the age when Kevin began developing the personalities. When he was abused by his mother.
Jade: Not a leading personality. But is one who is suffering from diabetes and needs insulin shots. This personality is important because the film establishes that Kevin’s body is altered physically based on each personality. When the body takes on other personalities, it is not diabetic. When Kevin’s body takes on Jade, there is a physical alteration that makes it diabetic.
Orwell: Again, is not a leading personality but is one that is focused on history.
The Beast: This is the 24th personality which is yet to arrive. Just like Jade, the arrival of this personality will alter the physical body to become pachydermous, super agile and super strong.
While initially, Barry has been controlling the ownership of the light, Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig have begun controlling the light independent of Barry. The three personalities – Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig are preparing for the arrival of the new personality – The Beast. Kevin’s original personality has not been in the light for many years now.
Kevin has been a patient of Dr. Fletcher for a while now. However, Dr. Fletcher has only been met by Barry’s personality. Barry has told Fletcher about how the mind has chairs and they take turns at the light. Dr. Fletcher has been doing extensive research on DID and believes in the “mind over body” theory. She has noticed how there are instances where one personality can have high cholesterol while the others don’t, even though it’s the same body. The central point of the movie revolves around the fact that the mind can alter the body. Fletcher even gives talks about this too.
Coming back to Kevin, Dr. Fletcher hasn’t really met any of the other personalities but Barry in the past. Recently, Barry understands that the other personalities have been taking the light behind his back. Barry emails Fletcher about it. But Dennis has been going to meet Fletcher in the guise of Barry. Dennis doesn’t want the other personalities to tell Fletcher what he has been up to.
Kevin works at the zoo. This is disclosed at the end of the film. One day at work, two girls (close to the age of 17 years) come up to Barry. One of them takes his hand and puts it under her shirt, on her breast. The second one does the same. Then they just run off laughing to their friends. While most personalities stated that this was fine and it was just a teenage prank, this brings up issues from Kevin’s young age when he was abused by his mother. This incident causes the suppressed personality Dennis to take the light. Dennis is the strong personality who deems himself to be the protector. Ever since this incident, Barry is no longer in control of the light. Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig take over.
A few weeks after this incident, Dennis follows and plans to kidnap two girls – Claire and Marcia. Now, this is my speculation but these are the same two girls who played the prank. They are not a random pick. Casey is being dropped by Claire’s dad and was never originally planning to be in the car. She just happened to be there. Dennis enters the car, masks himself and sprays Claire and Marcia. He doesn’t seem to be bothered about Casey. Soon as Casey tries to leave, he sprays her too. The three girls are kidnapped and taken to a basement room. This is the area right under the Zoo where Kevin works.
What’s Casey’s story?
Let’s take a quick step back into Casey’s life. As a young girl, she was abused by her uncle. Casey’s mom seems to have passed away and later, her dad passes away too. Casey then lives with her abusive uncle suffering a lifetime of sexual abuse. She’s a very disconnected person and doesn’t like to be around people.
Casey just happens to be forced into coming to the birthday party. As a result, she gets kidnapped too. The girls have no clue why they have been kidnapped. Dennis drags Marcia away first because he wants her to strip and dance for him. Casey advises her to pee herself. Marcia does. Dennis is angry but decides to let her go and he leaves. Claire feels that they need to fight their captor but Casey explains that they’re no match.
Barry emails Fletcher. Dennis goes as Barry to meet Fletcher. Fletcher begins to have doubts that the personality who’s come to meet her is not Barry.
Back in the basement, Patricia is reprimanding Dennis for what he tried to do with Marcia. Dennis says “The food is waiting”. The girls think that it’s a woman outside and cry for help. As the door opens, they see their captor in women’s clothing. They look on in disbelief. Patricia tells the girls that Dennis is not allowed to touch them and leaves. Dennis comes back in and apologizes and mentions “you are sacred food and I promise not to bother you again”. The girls are food for the Beast. That’s what he means. The girls don’t know that yet.
Later, a Hedwig personality meets and talks to the girls. Says that someone is coming for them soon. Casey understands their captor has DID and begins to talk to Hedwig. Casey tells Hedwig that the “someone” is coming for him. Casey lies to Hedwig in the hope that she can get him to let them go. Hedwig says it took too long to make this room safe from outsiders and he leaves. The girls begin to search the room to find a vent on the ceiling that is hidden. Claire removes the false ceiling and opens the vent. Casey and Marcia are holding the door closed as Hedwig tries to enter. Dennis takes over and forces the door open and notices Claire leaving through the vent. Claire crawls through and finds and exit. She runs and hides in a locker. Dennis finds her. He has OCD and can’t bare to look at Claire’s dirty sweater and orders her to take it off. He locks Claire in a separate room.
Dennis impersonates Barry
Barry emails Fletcher again. Dennis goes to meet Fletcher again in the guise of Barry. Fletcher guesses that it is Dennis who she’s talking with. Fletcher mentions that Dennis was banned from the light because of his desire to watch young girls dance naked. She notices Dennis has OCD which Barry doesn’t. She also mentions that Patricia was banned from the light too because of her unstable nature. Dennis maintains that he is Barry and leaves. Fletcher later reviews her camera recordings with Jai (Shyamalan) to confirm that it was not Barry, but Dennis who visited. Fletcher notices that Dennis walks through the trash and not around it. Dennis was over-acting to prove that there is no display of OCD.
In the basement, Patricia visits Marica and Casey. She brings them food. She takes the girls to the kitchen and prepares a sandwich. Patricia gets angry when she cuts the bread crooked – her OCD. Marcia attacks Patricia with a chair and makes a run for it but hits a dead-end. Patricia catches up and explains how Marcia has always been protected. That she has never suffered and that’s the reason she was chosen (along with Claire and Casey). Patricia and Dennis consider Casey and Claire to have been protected all their life too. They don’t know about Casey’s past. Marcia is kept in another room, next to Claire’s.
Hedwig visits Casey. He explains how he can overrule Barry’s power to decide who goes into the light. Hedwig has been assisting Patricia and Dennis to take control of Kevin as and when they like. Hedwig wants to kiss Casey, a child’s kiss. After that, he tells her about his CD player in his room next to his window. Casey convinces him to take her to his room. Hedwig agrees.
Dennis goes to meet Fletcher again. One of the personalities has emailed again. Fletcher explains why she doesn’t think badly about Dennis she pleads to let her know that if it is him that she’s talking to. Dennis admits and talks to Fletcher. He explains how Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig are referred to as “The Horde”, and are preparing for the arrival of the 24th personality – the Beast. Dennis has seen the Beast. But lies to Fletcher saying that he hasn’t. He lies because he prefers that she thinks it’s a fantasy. That way she will not interfere in the arrival of the Beast. Fletcher understands how the Beast is not part of the chair set-up in Kevin’s mind. That the Beast is in a train yard. That the personality Beast is born in that hypothetical train yard because Kevin’s dad left on a train (Kevin’s dad left him defenseless against his abusive mother).
Back in the basement. Hedwig takes Casey to his room. But to Casey’s disappointment, she realizes that the window is just a drawing on the wall. Casey pleads with Hedwig to let her go. Hedwig doesn’t agree. He does show her the walkie-talkie that he’s stolen from Dennis. Casey turns it on and a guard comes on. She tries to explain that she’s been kidnapped and kept in a basement. The guard thinks it’s a practical joke and doesn’t pay heed. Patricia takes control of Kevin and takes back the walkie-talkie from Casey. Casey is taken back to her room but she finds and keeps the key her door on the floor.
The Beast is here
Fletcher gets another email and comes to meet Kevin. Dennis is in control. She asks to come in and talk. Dennis agrees. Dennis mentions about the German woman who was originally blind and developed DID. Her other personalities developed vision. Dennis mentions Fletcher speculated that the optical nerves regenerated because of German girl’s beliefs. Similarly, Dennis tries to explain what the coming of the beast is going to mean. Dennis says he has met the beast. He describes the beast to be much bigger than himself. He describes the beast to be very muscular with a long mane of hair and with fingers that are twice the length of regular ones. This doesn’t mean that Kevin will physically change to look like the Beast but will become physically very strong. The mind is going to make the body as strong as the Beast looks. The Beast is basically an amalgam of various animals in the zoo.
Fletcher asks Dennis about the eating of the impure young. Dennis says he needs to go meet the Beast. Fletcher senses that something might be wrong. She puts a napkin in the door to stop it from shutting itself locked. The point of the napkin is to keep the door open so she can make a run for it if needed. After this, she asks to use the restroom. Dennis shows her the way. She opens the door with Claire in it and realizes that this has gone out of hand. Fletcher tries to reason with Dennis but he sprays her unconscious.
Kevin’s Different Personalities
Dennis leaves. Claire and Marica try to find a way to unlock their rooms. Marcia tries desperately with a hanger to unbolt her door. Meanwhile, Casey uses her key to exit her room. But she’s trapped in the next room. This room has a computer but doesn’t have an active internet. The computer has recordings of the various personalities of Kevin. In Barry’s recording, she sees the location of the keys to the door.
Dennis heads to the station. He buys flowers and leaves them on the platform. Dennis is leaving these for Kevin’s dad who once left on the train never to return. He’s also doing this because he’s going to set the beast free and that would change everything. Dennis heads to the dock and enters one of the trains and begins to change into the Beast. Kevin is shown to have an altered muscular physique and now moves like an animal. He runs back to the basement where Fletcher regains consciousness and makes her way to the table. She writes out Kevin’s full name. Kevin Wendell Crumb.
Kevin Wendell Crumb
This is the name that Kevin’s mom used to use when she beat him up. There is a scene where she’s yelling out his full name just before beating him. Fletcher mentions earlier that using this name will bring Kevin to the light and cause chaos for all the other personalities. She writes his name on a paper hoping maybe one of the girls would read it out and save themselves.
What Fletcher doesn’t realize is that the Beast is behind her. The Beast grabs her and crushes her. Fletcher tries to use a knife to stab the Beast. But the knife simply breaks. This tells us that the mind has made the body strong as a pachydermous animal. The Beast snaps Fletcher’s spine and kills her.
Casey leaves her room looking for the other two girls. Marcia is lying dead with her stomach eaten out. The Beast has fed on her. Casey goes to the next room to find Claire who gets dragged and we see the Beast feeding on her too. Casey runs out to find a dead Fletcher and sees the note. The Beast comes crawling on the walls. Casey reads out Kevin Wendell Crumb. Kevin’s personality takes over. Kevin asks Casey what is going on. She tells him he killed Fletcher. Kevin asks if the date was still September 18, 2014. This shows us that Kevin has been out of the light for years now. He tells Casey about the location of a shotgun and the shells and asks her to kill him. By now the other personalities come and try to explain to Casey why what wouldn’t be necessary. After all, they don’t want to die. Hedwig takes over and allows Patricia the control. Casey tries to call out to Kevin Wendell Crumb. Patricia explains how that will be no use as Kevin is deep in sleep.
Ending Explained : The Impure must die
Casey makes a run for it with the shotgun and picks up the shells on the way. The beast follows her, moving like an animal. Casey loads the gun and is unable to fire and hit the moving Beast. The Beast says “Only through pain can you achieve your greatness. The impure are the untouched, the unburned, the unslain. Those who have not been torn have no value in themselves and no place in this world”. This simply means the Beast believes that people who have never been hurt and have always been protected, are worthless as they have learned nothing. He also feels such people must die. The Beast feeds on the impure.
Casey shuts herself inside a cage and from within she fires at the Beast from close range. She shoots him twice. The Beast appears wounded but is able to get back up. He bends the iron bars of the cage with his bare hands. As he’s doing this he sees scars on Casey’s body. He realizes that Casey has been through suffering. He deems her to be pure and leaves. Casey is rescued by a guard and the police are called. One of the cops tells Casey that her uncle is here to pick her up. Casey doesn’t say she’s ready to go. She is shown to be making a decision. The events of the kidnapping have possibly made her strong enough to stand up to her abusive uncle. They don’t show further but it is highly likely that she doesn’t go back with her uncle.
The Beast hasn’t died. The Horde is shown talking to each other in front of a mirror. They mention that the shotgun shells haven’t gone through. That they are what they believe they are. The Beast personality has been capable of physically altering Kevin’s body to resist the shotgun shells. The remaining personalities are not present anymore. The Horde join forces with the Beast.
The Last Scene
The film ends with the scene at the diner and David Dunn. Like I said, this is nicely set up for a movie which will have David vs The Beast. We can only hope. Mr. Glass it is called.