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For many M. Night Shyamalan fans, 2016’s Split was a return to form for the master storyteller that dazzled the world more than a decade before with The Sixth Sense. After years of blunders, we finally had a film that proved that Shyamalan was still at the top of his game.
Part of Shyamalan’s Unbreakable cinematic universe, Split might be one of the more unique entries in the “superhero” genre we’ve ever seen. If, after watching Split, you’re still in the mood for some more split-personality mysteries and rousing, claustrophobic thrillers, then this list of 10 great movies that are just like Split is just what you need!
The Visit (2015)
Before Split relaunched Shyamalan’s career, 2015’s The Visit demonstrated that the filmmaker could breathe new life into the exhausted found-footage horror genre. The story takes place in a secluded country home, where two kids are visiting their grandparents for the first time. The only problem is that the people living in the house might not be their relatives at all.
Featuring some chilling scenes and unexpected twists (this is a Shyamalan film, after all), The Visit is full of the dread that makes you want to leave your lights on at night. It will also force you to think twice before visiting your relatives alone ever again.
As you might have already noticed, not every entry in our list has to do with split personalities and whatnot. On the contrary: dissociative identity disorder is only a fraction of what makes Split such a powerful thriller. The real reason why we love Split is because of its menacing antagonist, and Misery might have been the blueprint for James McAvoy’s character.
Based on a novel by Stephen King, Misery revolves around an injured writer who, after a car accident, is kidnapped by the world’s most toxic fan. Starring the late James Caan, this is a film you definitely don’t want to miss if you’re into Stephen King’s books (in all honesty, who isn’t?)
Fight Club (1999)
Even mentioning Fight Club in a list about movies with split personalities might be a massive spoiler, but let’s just pretend that everyone knows the big twist at the end of this iconic 1999 film for the sake of discussion.
A poignant critic of modern society and its frivolous pursuit of pleasure, Fight Club has been widely acclaimed as one of the most influential films in contemporary cinema. The fact that it also stars Brad Pitt in what could be his most culturally-significant role yet is just the icing on the cake.
Get Out (2017)
Long-time comedian Jordan Peele shocked the world in 2017 when he directed Get Out – a film considered among the best thrillers of the decade. In what would become Peele’s signature style, Get Out also explores the complex matter of race relations in America.
As to why Get Out is in a list of movies that are similar to Split, let’s just say that the claustrophobic atmosphere – coupled with the implication that some crazy experiments are going on behind the scenes – puts this thriller in the same category as Shyamalan’s revival piece.
Similarly to Get Out, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a suffocating cinematic experience that puts three people of varied backgrounds against the end of the world as they deal with the fact that they’re trapped in a tiny bunker with a deranged Fred Flintstone.
While the movie is only tangentially related to the original Cloverfield, John Goodman’s outstanding performance as a survivalist maniac steals the show in what could’ve been just another alien flick. 10 Cloverfield Lane is the perfect example of how a solid script can carry a movie, as most of the film takes place within a bunker. Claustrophobics beware.
It would be a disservice to good ol’ M. Night Shyamalan if we didn’t mention Unbreakable in a list talking about Split. This 2000 film put a unique spin on the superhero genre, delivering a touching drama that, despite its superhuman background, felt even more personal than some of Shyamalan’s later works.
Starring Bruce Willis as a man who might be the world’s first superhero, Unbreakable shows us that not everything about being a hero has to be “super.” This flick also acts as the first part of the “Shyamalanverse” – with Split as the introduction to the franchise’s main villain.
The last part of the Shyamalanverse (so far) might also be the most divisive. While Unbreakable is a great mixture of drama and action, and Split is a masterclass in how to craft an amazing thriller, Glass struggles to find its identity in a world that has already seen more than enough superhero films.
Still, if you loved Split and Unbreakable, and were wondering what happened with the characters from those films, definitely give Glass a watch. It might lack the punch that his bigger siblings had, but it’s still a worthwhile film for die-hard fans of Shyamalan’s unique filmmaking.
Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island is one of those films that makes you question everything you just saw on the screen. Is Detective Teddy Daniels really a detective? What’s going on with all the conspiracies on the island? Did the doctors really plan every scenario Daniels comes across? Is Leonardo DiCaprio real? Most of these questions are left to the viewer’s interpretation – and that’s what makes this thriller so unique. Shutter Island sticks like a sore thumb in Scorsese’s oeuvre, but, if it is anything to go by, it’s a shame that the director hasn’t worked in more films like this in his career.
Secret Window (2004)
Yet another entry that has to do with Stephen King and a secluded writer, 2004’s Secret Window is a psychological thriller starring Johnny Depp as an unstable man whose life’s thrown upside down after he finds his wife having an affair with one of his best mates. Very ‘Stephen King’ so far, right? Well, as it turns out, a killer is lurking behind the scenes – way behind the scenes, as in inside Depp’s character’s head.
Secret Window offers viewers a clever twist on the whole whodunit: one that shows that, whoever developed the film’s story, is most certainly an avid writer – not just because of the turns and twists, but also because of the sheer amount of puns that are central to the plot. (John “Shooter,” really?)
When it comes to thriller films about split personalities and unexpected plot twists, few of them come close to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho – well, one of his many masterpieces. While most people might be familiar with the Norman Bates twist thanks to the popular Bates Motel show, the film still offers some startling developments that can take even the keenest film aficionados by surprise.
Psycho is one of those rare thrillers that stands the test of time and remains one of the greatest horror films ever made. It’s clear that many of Split‘s ideas have been inspired by Hitchcock’s work – so, if you want to experience that same sense of dread and anticipation, you know where to look… Just stay far away from the 1983 sequel, or the bizarre 1998 remake, starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. Yes: Vince Vaughn. The 90s were kind of weird.