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We haven’t heard of director Dennis Iliadis since his solid 2009 remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (a re-do that bettered the original in my book) but here he is back in the horror spotlight with +1 aka PLUS ONE. Now I’m a sucker for movies about Doppelgangers. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Thing (1992) are two of my top horror movies of all time! There aren’t enough "double" movies out there that are well rounded (Doppelganger kind of sucked for example, Drew Barrymore TNA aside of course), hence I was jazzed about this one! So how did it fare? Pretty damn good!
The first thing that struck me about PLUS ONE (I can’t call it +1 with a straight face…sorry) was the novel screenplay by Bill Gullo behind it (from a story by Dennis Iliadis). I don’t prop screenplays very often in my keyboard drivel, but this one truly stood out. From the realistic characterization of the young adult characters, their honest (and sometimes hilarious) dialogue to the insane and unpredictable chain of events; this script was on the ball and must be applauded for going for the Gold! After giving my 3 cents on horror movies for 13 years now, I’m pretty damn good at second guessing them at this point but PLUS ONE kept me on my thumbs! It slyly took a concept we’ve seen before and spun it on its head while adding its own unique flavors to it. Congrats for pulling that off!
Another angle that I really dug was the way in which the main protagonist David (Rhys Wakefield) was handled and the fairly twisted character arc that came with his character; pretty ballsy move there! At the end of the neck snap, the dude was the hero of the film, that role is usually played pretty safe. Not here! The same went for the Allison (shy chick at the party) subplot which went against the grain in terms of how everybody else reacted to these doubles popping up. Tackled in a talented fashion by cutie twin sisters Colleen and Suzanne Dengel, the role of Allison wound up being one of the more compelling ones in the movie. And of course, as most good Sci-Fi flicks should, it came with a metaphor (s). The happenings here could be seen as a statement on the ‘changes” we go through on our way to adulthood, the fear versus acceptance as to things we don't understand or could even act as a parallel to the “accepting yourself for who you are” type spiel, but to be honest, I didn’t give a shit about all that smarty pants jive, it was there, I noticed, but it didn’t move me or nothing. I was too busy having a blast via the f*cked up going-ons onscreen.
Character wise; the young leads were excellent! Rhys Wakefield (who was one of the best things in The Purge) managed to pull of quite the feat; to make a seriously flawed character likeable; due to the earnest fashion he played him. Ashley Hinshaw came off as genuine and layered as the wounded girlfriend, while Natalie Hall brought in affable charisma and yummy nudity to this celluloid party. And then we had Logan Miller as geek boy Teddy. These types of roles usually get on my nerves big time, but Miller did it so well here, that I warmed to him and he made me chuckle. Mission accomplished brah! Topple on top of that some mucho polished visuals by Iliadi tha greased my retinas right, all kinds of raunchy sex scenes that teased the beast in my Khakis and a last act that deliciously upped the ante on human ugliness, back-handing me to some degree, being that the bulk of the flick was pretty much a “kids party opus”, and you get a cool little surprise! Really, I didn’t see this movie coming!
Any drawbacks? Well the lead characters accepted way too easily what was going on. If that was me! I’d be out of there quicker than you can spell S.T.D.! Moreover; I kept hoping that the film would take its horror elements a step further than it did. I mean, it went all out with the sex stuff, why hold back on the death stuff? The opportunities were there, but they didn’t fully go to town with them. Lastly, I wished there was a “clearer” explanation as to the WHY behind the madness. The flick gave up some info, and my feeble brain managed to piece something together in terms of an explanation, but my stupid ass needed more.
On the whole though, PLUS ONE was just a truckload of fun from beginning to end! Booze, sex, death and doppelgangers! It reminded me of them little unknown shockers I’d rent on VHS in the 80’s that then would surprise me as to how entertaining they were. Like Night of the Comet for example! Even tough the flick is not getting the wide distribution release that it deserves I anticipate that it may become a cult classic. See it if you can find it! Worth the effort! PARTY ON DUDES!