Split dedicates its running time to an idea that M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable tried to toss off during its awkward final moments: an origin story for a super villain. Overall, I like Unbreakable better than Split, but that notion—and Shyamalan’s true gift is concocting tantalizing notions—at least gets fleshed out in fuller, more interesting ways here. James McAvoy plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, a tortured man whose childhood abuse has resulted in extreme dissociative identity disorder. About two dozen personalities reside inside him, including a manimal known as The Beast, who waits for one of Kevin’s other identities to kidnap privileged young women so he can eat them. (Kevin’s more diabolical personalities see past trauma as a badge of honor, a mark of being more fully human and therefore superior to those who have lived lives of ease.) This scenario gives McAvoy a chance to give not one, but six different BIG performances. While the shifting is impressive, it’s also showy in a way that always makes you aware that this is an elaborate acting exercise. Split also dabbles in exploitation when Kevin’s personalities conspire to kidnap three nubile high schoolers (Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Jessica Sula). As in his previous films, Shyamalan doesn’t seem to understand the unsettling power of the sexual violence that’s implied; the film simple handles it as a casual narrative device, rather than something that could possibly correlate to anyone’s real-world experience (the same could be said of the movie’s handling of mental illness). All that said, the notion of a villain’s power being born of his own suffering is a comic-book staple that’s intriguingly reimagined from the ground up here, in a way that speaks to the originality that Shyamalan first brought to the superhero genre with Unbreakable. There’s something exciting about a filmmaker scribbling away at a movie comic in his own corner, completely separate from the DC and Marvel universes.