Back in September, M. Night Shyamalan's Split screened at Fantastic Fest. The film was presented as this year's sole "secret screening", which meant that most of us had no idea what we were going to see when we made our way into the theater that night. A few key Fantastic Fest employees knew, of course, but they refused to spill the secret. Doing so would've spoiled the fun.
So the movie plays and it does what it does, and then - in its final moments - it delivered a final note so unexpected, so out of left field, that many in attendance were moved to yell. Or clap. Or (in my case) to shout the word "WHAT" several times, in gradually-increasing volume. This was, without exaggeration, one of the most delightful little twists I'd ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a movie theater. I was mixed on the movie overall, but this moment? The best.
And so, when Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League strolled out onstage a moment later and assured everyone in attendance that he'd track down and blackball any Fantastic Fest attendee who spoiled Split's surprise on social media, not only did we believe him - we were on his side. Who'd wanna spoil such a thing for other film geeks?
Assholes. That's a thing assholes would do.
The months since that Split screening have been something of a waiting game. We've all been on the internet long enough to know that the inevitable would occur, the only questions were: who was gonna be the one to do it, and how soon after Split's release was it going to happen? We got our answer this morning, when an outlet I won't name ran an "EXCLUSIVE" post revealing Split's final twist alongside a brief interview with director M. Night Shyamalan. Here's a notable excerpt from that interview:
You can almost hear the resignation in Shyamalan's voice there at the end, can't you? He knows the jig is up, that the secret's gonna get out, but hey - at least some people played along, right? In this day and age, that's really more than anyone can reasonably ask for.
From what I can gather, the defense against revealing this spoiler seems to revolve around the idea that Split's final twist doesn't actually "spoil" the movie. To an extent, this is true: if you watched Split up until its very final moments and then stopped, the larger narrative of the film would not be spoiled, not in the traditional sense. You'd be satisfied with your filmgoing experience (assuming you dug the movie, which I think most of you will) and you'd move on.
But the final twist in Split is wholly untraditional. It is a straight-up surprise - one that will be of particular interest to a certain subset of film geekdom - and while it might be exciting to hear about from someone second-hand, I can assure you that experiencing it in the moment is infinitely more rewarding. Robbing anyone of experiencing that moment in a movie theater feels like film geek treason to me: to some extent, you have impacted the fun that might be had by another moviegoer. And who do we know who likes to take fun away from others?
Assholes, that's right.
My advice to you, then, is to not be an asshole. This is good life advice in general, but it's particularly useful when approaching how you talk about Split. Don't rob someone else of a nice surprise, either by explicitly spoiling that surprise or by dancing around it in maddeningly cryptic terms (note: you're almost never being as clever with your crypticism as you think you are). Let others discover it for themsleves, and feel good about the fact that - just by keeping your mouth shut - you may've helped a filmmaker brighten another person's day.
Don't be an asshole.
Also, go see Split. We'll set up an all-spoilers thread for it over the weekend, for those of you who want to discuss it (believe me: you're gonna want to discuss Split after you've seen it).