The Twin Wish It Was Identical To Better Horror Movies
Large open fields. Tall stalks of corn. A family car that goes faster than it should. Horror movie fans know this is going to end badly for the poor saps they watch. Sure enough, the inevitable crash and ensuing anguish in the hospital give way to a funeral scene. But why is the World Trade Center in the background?
It may take some time to understand the reasons for The twin’s historical specificity. Smartphones wouldn’t make much of a difference to the plot, so why put it in place before 2001? Most of the story takes place in rural Finland, so it’s not like Islamic terror is a factor. And then it hits – a reason so banal and obvious that it seems ridiculous. It’s a film about the mourning of a twin. And those were the twin towers. It’s setting a pattern to see dead twins! Yes really.
This choice is symptomatic of a key problem with The twin. Some designs seem really dumb and ill-conceived, until a revelation somehow explains the clumsiness. Generally speaking, the best types of story surprises are enlightening material; the worst is just laughing at you for falling into the trap. Much of what happens in The twin bounces between these ends of the spectrum. To name just one: an image of the demon Baphomet, seated on a throne and raising his hand exactly as depicted in the statues erected by the satanic temple on public land to troll the religious right, is simply not so scary these days.
Evangelical panic aside, the film’s equating of pagans with Satanists is sloppy and outdated, just ask members of either group in real life. They’re easy enough to find – and these days they’re more likely to have social media pages than secret goat sacrifices. Also, when a movie wants to scare you out of the circles, it faces a tough climb.
Horror cinema is full of families who retreat to spooky rural locations after a tragedy. Rachel (Teresa Palmer, Warm bodies) and her husband Anthony (Steven Cree, Foreign(Ian Murray) travel from New York to Finland, not only with their son Elliot (Tristan Ruggieri) in tow, but also a terrifying, Joker-like portrait of Elliot’s dead twin, Nathan. Anthony, it seems, has Finnish heritage and some success as a writer. (It’s actually director Taneli Mustonen from Finland, with some success there as a filmmaker). But it all helps to give the film a bit of Midsommar ambiance, which seems intentional; echoes of this track and Ari Aster’s other horror hit Hereditary permeate the story.
As Anthony begins to act like the absolute stereotype of a grieving writer, isolating himself and drinking whiskey, Elliot begins to toy with an invisible Nathan, then insists he’s him. This leads to some scary nightmares and scares for Rachel, but on the whole, their big, empty house is never as scary as it should be. A pitch-black hallway in Elliot’s bedroom that seems to lead nowhere resembles some kind of Chekovian pistol, but its narrative function turns out to be the same as its literal function: to lead nowhere.
One of the challenges with The twin is that it is difficult to understand how much this family is affected by the tragedy if we have never seen how they behaved before that. When Elliot suddenly pretends to be his dead twin, how do we know the child is acting out of character or how his ways have changed? There’s a reason the movie withholds key information like this, and it’s something of a spoiler, but it’s tied to the fundamental problem that the story depends more on fakes than real based scares. on the characters. And in the story’s own words, a spookier sound design could go a long way to making the setting really weird.
Longtime British TV stalwart Barbara Marten adds some much-needed personality as Helen, the random English woman in this Finnish village. She’s either completely mad, or talks to the dead, or a combination of the two. The plot eventually lets it down, but Marten’s intense, wide-eyed commitment never falters and helps give some scares more impact than they otherwise would. Yes The twin had made her the primary threat, it could have given viewers some spooky nightmares for real.