Was Split intended to be a sequel to Unbreakable?
M. Night Shyamalan has been playing the long game with the final installment to his forthcoming sequel...
If you haven’t seen the film Split, I’m not sure you’re going vibe this article… and of course SPOILERS BELOW:
I know I’m a late to the game on this one, but when Split came out last January, I wasn’t in any rush to see it. M. Night Shyamalan films were a “thing” in the late ’90s/early ’00s, and he had shocked America with his first film, The Sixth Sense; which I liked enough. Unfortunately, Shyamalan spent the next decade turning out underperforming films. I skipped The Village and The Lady in the Water, was confounded by The Happening, and ducked The Last Airbender and The Visit (though that one did look promising). I loved Signs because it stands the test of time, and to this day it’s probably one of his best films.
Interestingly enough, when Unbreakable was released, Shyamalan was probably the hottest director. Furthermore, Unbreakable, being the follow up to Sixth Sense (the second highest earner at the box office in 1999 at almost three hundred million), put a lot of unfair criticism on Unbreakable upon its release. You could probably chalk that up to being vastly different from Sixth Sense as well as superhero movies weren’t really taken seriously yet; much less one that wasn’t based on an existing property. I know, it’s hard to imagine a time where cinemagoers weren’t interested in seeing anything that had to do with superpowers, much less one that was grounded in realism. (Unbreakable doesn’t get enough credit for being the lead into Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.)
So, let’s talk Split. The end of Split was given away to me by a couple of friends at work, and it made me curious; it made me actually want to see it. Was it really a sequel or was the end (that I’d heard about) just tacked on in order to tie it into an earlier and more successful venture after a string of less than successful movies?
Coincidentally Split is currently streaming on HBO, and watching it wouldn’t cost me anything more than my time; I gave it go.
I liked it, and even before we saw Bruce Willis’ reluctant hero from Unbreakable, David Dunn, I had a sense it was coming. The music started sounding eerily familiar. I picked up a tune I had not heard, well, since I had last listened to The Unbreakable score. It was a track called “Visions” that I recognized, and it played when David Dunn is at the train station looking for a criminal.
The scene in Unbreakable:
We hear echoes of the music in the scene before when Kevin Wendell Crumb is putting himself back together in the mirror.
However, was it really planned? Can we pick up hints from Split and possibly Glass in Unbreakable? Well, since it is also streaming on HBO, I decided to go back and rewatch it. The verdict? I really do think M. Night had this planned.
Early in Split, we learn Kevin’s dad left on a train and never came back. Unbreakable, of course, opens with a train crash from which David Dunn is the only survivor, and that turns Elijah Price onto him. As far as linking the two movies together, though, that is fairly innocuous.
Under trivia for Unbreakable on IMDb, it is speculated that Kevin Wendell Crumb, the villain in Split, can be seen with his mom at the stadium right before David Dunn confronts M. Night as the drug dealer.
It’s a reach, but okay. I’ll go with it.
A few other tie-ins: Just like in Unbreakable with DD (David Dunn), the hero of Split‘s first and last name begin with the same letter: CC for Casey Cooke.
What really sold me on the planning of a trilogy is when Samuel L. Jackson’s criminal mastermind, Elijah Price, finds the comic in the bookstore (in Unbreakable).
When we first saw Unbreakable in 2000, it was easy to see Sentryman as David Dunn’s… uh… Securityman, I guess? It was easy to dismiss the “The Coalition of Evil” below him (depicted on the cover above) as cheesy, stock villains that every superhero could take on.
Although, when you rewatch the movie after seeing Split, you can see more of those monsters below. I would make an argument that the hairy monster is “The Beast.” Yes, The Beast; The 24th personality that emerges in Split. The very monster that Dennis has foretold. Also, maybe that collection of baddies and monsters is not just any collection after all.
I couldn’t find a clip, so I had to transcribe the dialogue, and once again, if you haven’t seen Split this might not make a lot of sense.
“…How this Beast can walk on walls like the best wall climbers using the slightest friction and imperfections to hold his body close to seemingly sheer surfaces. How his skin is thick and tough like a rhinoceros.”
Maybe it really was a trilogy after all. It’s also fair to note that Shyamalan has discussed his enthusiasm for an Unbreakable sequel in the past.
I like that.
I really did want to poke holes in the fact that the final scene in Split was a risk-free afterthought in hopes of feeling out the commercial possibilities of said Unbreakable trilogy, but I think this was his play all along. That’s okay though. Glass, the title to the next installment, comes out in one year and the plot as listed on the IMDb is as follows:
“The imprisoned Elijah Price holds secrets critical to both David Dunn and Kevin Crumb.”
What secrets? The origin of each characters powers?
For that we’ll have to wait and see the movie. See you in theaters January 18, 2019.
Cross your fingers until then…