While it seemed, for awhile, M. Night Shyamalan would stand tall amongst Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen and other legendary directors who could have a series of flops yet still get financing, it seems he may have something on his hands here. Not a new classic, but definitely something which will win at the box office.
Kevin, Among Various Others (James McAvoy) | Marcia (Jessica Sula) | Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy/ Izzie Coffey) | Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) | Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley)
Characters & Storyline
After years of abuse, two people meet in a stranger’s car. One is Casey, a young girl who was abused by her uncle for all of her life and the other is Dennis, though technically Kevin, who also experienced a lot of abuse as a child. Together these two come to know two girls in the backseat. One named Marcia and the other Claire. Together they go down into what looks like a dungeon where all the girls stay waiting for The Beast to arrive.
Meanwhile, Kevin, Dennis, Patricia, and Hedwig, fight for control. A fight which will determine if the girls will survive or if they maybe allowed to be eaten by The Beast.
McAvoy Playing Multiple Personalities
In terms of presenting various personalities with just his performance and not employing much in the way of makeup and costumes, McAvoy does quite well. In fact, it was giving me The United States of Tara flashbacks. Though what really pushed the idea of how well he performed is because each personality was not only distinctly different but when impersonating one of the main ones, Barry, there were certain tells which let you knew who was really talking. Something pointed out by Kevin’s psychologist, Dr. Fletcher, and thus pushing you to really take note of how much McAvoy crafted these characters by more than just the obvious.
To go a bit deeper, Dennis is someone with OCD and the love of watching girls dance naked, the way he deals with little things out of place, the way he looks at these three college-aged girls with lust and shame, is quite something. But then there is Patricia who is very much like a twisted suburban housewife. There is no wig, no makeup, no heeled shoes after the first introduction but just with a look, you can tell when she has taken the body.
Leaving perhaps the last noteworthy personality which is Hedwig. This 10-year-old personality, likely representing the age when Kevin was abused, is very comical. Especially since he loves to end things with saying et cetra. Though it is perhaps thanks to Anya Taylor-Joy as the person who mostly plays off McAvoy that this movie is so good.
Though this young lady has only just arrived, arguably she maybe the most compelling actress to have come out of Hollywood in years. For whether it is playing in the overrated The Witch, the decent Morgan, or the very lovable Barry, she has proven herself to be much more than the newest actress who seemingly will peak playing a love interest. She through those movies, alongside this one, has shown a great deal of diversity. To the point, it is hard to not get excited about her next movies.
Speaking of her performance in this movie, as noted, she is someone who has survived years of abuse. Abuse which is assumingly of the sexual nature. Something which isn’t revealed to later in the film. However, in combination of the young actress who plays her, and the scars and marks we see, it helps you understand why she is so aloof and not as freaked out and shivering like the other girls. In fact, at one point, being this is an M. Night Shyamalan movie, I was questioning if this maybe like SaW and Casey was in on this. For, as will be noted in the criticism, she gets away with an awful lot in this movie.
Somethings Just Don’t Make Sense
Let’s just add up a multitude of things. First and foremost, Casey has the opportunity to run after Dennis sprays some type of chemical in Marcia and Claire’s face. I mean, he literally takes off his mask so he won’t inhale the fumes and just focuses on the steering wheel and getting his thoughts together. Meanwhile, Casey is sitting right next to him, seat belt not on, door already unlock, hand on the handle, yet she doesn’t run for it. She, instead, tries to slowly open the door and even when Dennis puts his mask back on, she doesn’t try to dash. She lets herself be captured.
And that is just a taste of how there is such an exception made for Casey to the point you aren’t sure if the idea was to make it seem Casey could be related to Kevin and maybe was part of this whole thing. For while you could try to argue that her hunting instincts, from when her father was alive, were part of her survival tactics, even when Marcia tries to knock out Patricia and run, Patricia says for her to go to her room and that is an actual option. Which, granted, Patricia isn’t for violence, but you’d think she would have switched to Dennis to allow him to force one girl into her room and get the other. Especially since it isn’t like Marcia could escape without the keys.
Marcia and Claire Are Just Eye Candy
As much as Jessica Sula, pre-knowing who Anya Taylor-Joy was, was a reason for me wanting to see this, her character and Claire honestly were such a waste of this movie’s budget. I mean, Marcia straight up is a token. One whose name we don’t hear until towards the end of the movie. On top of that, we don’t learn a thing about her besides she is friends with Claire and they go to the same art class. Not that Claire’s background is any better. Like Marcia, she is privileged and while not to the point it is eye roll inducing, at the same time they give that girl no ability to have any kind of depth at all.
It Leaves Things Open for a Sequel
One I hope Shyamalan is never tempted to make.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
To my surprise, this was sold out on Friday and while very much a likable movie, one which helps build up Taylor-Joy’s filmography, and keeps McAvoy relevant, honestly this movie isn’t all that. For while McAvoy and Taylor-Joy’s performances were good, the twists are nil and honestly it seems they cast Sula and strictly for eye candy. Hence why one is in her bra for most of the movie and the other in her underwear.