No one goes into a horror movie because they want to leave with renewed optimism about the world (and if you do, check yourself), but the original twist ending of Split may have been a little much for even the biggest horror buff.
(Warning: spoilers for Split ahead!)
On the home release of his latest flick, M. Night Shyamalan revealed that he had a truly tragic ending in mind when he penned the low-key Unbreakable sequel. The end of the film that Shyamalan ended up going with is ominous, but not completely devoid of hope: while James McAvoy's newly-named The Horde evades the police (and vows to punish all of humanity with a seriously creepy mirror monologue), The Horde's evil personalities do allow Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) to escape relatively unscathed. In the original version, however, The Horde's future plans are made crystal clear — and it's pretty sickening.
As MoviePilot reports, Shyamalan's original ending put The Horde in a far more public place: the roof of a school. McAvoy's character looks down on the children, then declares their "unbroken souls" are "a waste." As the rest of the movie has made evident, The Beast loves unbroken souls — as a part of his meal plan. So, yep: The Horde was going to unleash the monstrous personality that is The Beast on a bunch of innocent school children. Roll credits.
As a Shyamalan fan (The Happening happened, get over it, haters) I am glad he took some time to craft a ending that's a little less gruesome. In his interview on the home release of Split, Shyamalan explained:
"[The ending] was just too dark, and it made it kind of feel one note for me about what [The Beast's] intentions were, what are his motivations? ...So that’s why I wrote the ending that you see in the movie, with the mirror. So it was more showing the world what we were capable of… the original ending is a kind of dark and gruesome ending."
The ending would have been more than just dark — it would have hit a little too close to home. Though hardly intentional, the original Split ending would likely draw some inevitable parallels to real-life school tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Horror movies are often used as a mirror for the problems of society, but here, in a film that already killed two teenage girls and revealed another's history with sexual abuse, making children the ultimate victims of the story is particularly unsettling.
Shyamalan made the right call with his choice of an ending: It's still horrific, but not quite as depressing.