SPLIT - How to NOT end a story
Warning: Semi-spoilers. I'll be talking about the ending in vague terms, why the ending sucked, and why you should see the movie anyways.
Let me say this once: This is not a review. Now twice: This is not a review. Now REALLY FREAKING SLOW: This. Is. Not. A. Review. Are we good? Good. Had to make that clear. I'm going to keep this a short post, so let's put on our Story Goggles, and jump in.
Why SPLIT's ending SUCKED.
Four words: It had no climax. Or at least one that was so weak, it shouldn't qualify to be called one. And like sex, a story without good climax is simply, frustrating.
Have you ever felt like a movie fizzled out at the end? The whole thing was great until the ending was a total let down? Most of the time you get that feeling because the story had a weak climax, if it had one at all.
What is a climax?
To put it into oversimplified terms: The climax is the answer to the story's main question. It's the answer or solution to the story's conflict. But, while a climax may seem as simple as a yes or no answer, what makes it feel right is whether or not the character(s) earned the ending. They need to give the conflict everything they've got in order to succeed. When a character is let off the hook easy, we feel cheated and let down. Hence the fizzle out ending.
Imagine these stories without their strongest climax moments:
- Captain America Civil War: Captain America and Iron Man figure out the entire conflict was a big misunderstanding. There's no one on one fight, they hug it out. The end.
- The Princess Bride: Inigo Montoya never gets to fight the six-fingered man.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Frodo Baggins is able to easily throw the ring into Mount Doom, without an ounce of temptation to keep it for himself. Gollum never emerges to take the ring from Frodo at the end. The ring is tossed into Mount Doom as soon as they walk in. Eagles. Explosion. The end.
SPLIT's lack of Climax.
At the climax of split, the protagonist faces off against the monster called The Beast. At the end of the film, The Beast is barreling down on the protagonist. She runs from the monster. She reacts to the Carnage that it creates. She even attempts to fight it, firing off several shotgun blasts that do almost nothing. As the monster is ripping steel bars apart to get to the protagonist, we think she's going to have to fight for her life. Does she have to give it everything she's got in order to make it out alive? No.
The monster lets her off the hook when he sees her scars of self-harm. And realizing that she too is mentally damaged like he is, he decides to spare her.
Three things make this ending weak:
- The antagonist is not defeated in any sense of the word.
- It's fine to have the antagonist "win", but that should require some sort of failure on the protagonist's part.
- Protagonist didn't have to fight for it.
- Yeah, she ran. Yeah, she was scared. But all her actions in the climax were simply reactionary.
- Fizzle out endings lead to weak resolutions.
- When a climax fizzles, there's little audience anticipation for what happens next. The tension and excitement died with the letdown climax.
Why you should see it anyways.
- James McAvoy's performance is AWESOME.
- This movie did NOT rely on jump scares at all and was still very tense. (An accomplishment in the cesspool modern horror/thrillers are today as a genre)
- The twist is lame and the ending fizzles but the rest is M-FUCKING-NIGHT-SHYAMALAN GOLD (Not that DEVIL or AIR BENDER shit).
So there you have it. Great movies can have lame endings.
'till next time,