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The following story is going to totally spoil the ending to Split. If you've somehow made it this far without having the ending spoiled, don't break your streak now. Come back later.
Split was a movie which was pretty well received by fans and critics alike, but the thing that kept everybody talking after the film premiered was that incredibly surprising twist ending. It was a moment that nobody saw coming that completely changed the entire film. In an era where most movie spoilers end up online before the film hits theaters, this one remained intact. Our own Eric Eisenberg sat down with Split's producer during the Los Angeles press day for the home media release of Get Out and asked him how the movie was able to do that. In short, the main reason was that nobody expected such a small movie to have such a big surprise. According to Jason Blum,
Well, that's why low budget is fun. If this was a $50 million movie, you could never have done it. It was $9 million. For $9 million, you can make Split a standalone movie without saying it's a sequel, and it all works out... It was great to keep that as a surprise. It was much more effective to keep that as a surprise. But that's the joy of low-budget filmmaking.
M. Night Shyamalan is known for making standalone films. He had never once made anything that was a sequel to a previous film. Add to that the fact that nobody would expect to find a major movie spoiler in a film that only cost $9 million to make and everybody leaves you alone and just lets you do your thing. At a certain point, when your film's budget is large enough it just ends up on more people's radars. Shyamalan's previous film had also been a low budget movie that hadn't had any shocking twists like Split so fans and media just let this one go by. Certainly, if the film had been bigger, signified by a larger budget, people would have wondered what the filmmaker was up to more.
And then the last scene of Split hits and movie fans all remembered why they used to like M. Night Shyamalan. The scene features a cameo appearance by Bruce Willis playing the same character he played previously in Unbreakable showing that the two stories are within the same universe. We now know that there are plans for a third film, officially called Glass, that will bring the main characters from the two films together.
Certainly, if we had known how Split was going to end when we sat down in the theater it wouldn't have had nearly the impact. The scene is still a great scene, even if you know it's coming, but considering our rarely real surprises make it to the screen it was that much better since nobody expected it to happen.