PLUS ONE (+1) // No doubt, at some point in your life, you’ve heard the Golden Rule, but in case you haven’t, it is “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. This old adage is meant to keep children from harming one another, but it really is just a great philosophy to live by. But what would happen if you were actually faced with yourself; a separate duplicate of yourself? What would you do unto yourself? A little independent film titled “Plus One” attempts to answer that question, when a meteorite striking the earth and messes with the electricity in a small town which just happens to coincide with one of the biggest parties of the year. A little dose of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” mixed with the party stylings of “Project X” and you’ve got a recipe for some low budget science fiction.
With power outages, the guests of the party are faced with reoccurring phenomena; history repeating itself. Except, this is not a time travel thriller. Instead, each party goer has an exact replica of themselves wandering around the party, presumably themselves only hours prior to where they are now in time. Only a hand full of the teens realize what is going on and set out to keep their current selves from running into their past selves. But this remains tougher than it seems and witnessing one of the pairs murdering one another, the lead character David (Rhys Wakefield from “The Purge”) ventures out to find himself. Intertwined in this science fiction fodder is a twisted love story, involving David and Jill (Ashley Hinshaw). Earlier in the night, they break up, but now David finds a rare opportunity to right the wrongs of their last conversation and attempts to sway the past Jill while the present Jill hooks up with a different guy.
The truth is, “Plus One” stumbles onto the idea of the Golden Rule, but never elaborates. Whether this was by choice or not, there’s a missed opportunity to reveal the truth behind what looks like a sinister doppelganger, or an alien invasion, but what really just remains confusion and misunderstanding. Shown briefly between the past and present Allison character (interestingly enough, played by actual twins Colleen and Suzanne Dengel), they are not inherently evil or nice, but simply exact replicas of themselves. So if a person’s normal immediate response to any given situation is aggression, facing their exact selves drives them to kill one another. But like Allison’s relationship with her double, there’s a bonding and eventually more that comes from discovering an exact duplicate of yourself. Director Dennis Iliadis actually steers clear of any sort of explanation and leaves the film in the hands of the viewer, which is a gift and a curse.
Even with a strong concept, “Plus One” is unable to reach past its less than average performers and sweater thread caught on a nail editing style. Rhys Wakefield and Ashley Hinshaw are the only familiar faces, but playing against type, they’re really difficult to root for. Driving the only real overarching plot point, you cannot help but care less about the outcome and, as a result, the entire film as a whole. Playing David’s best friend Teddy, Logan Miller is the only character I found myself latching onto, and in the supporting role, he barely gets enough screen-time to make things worthwhile. With Natalie Hall by his side, playing the sexy Melanie, and bringing the sexual highlights of the film, there’s borderline just enough entertaining performances to keep one’s attention focused. However, the editing works against that, constantly feeling as if all the action is somewhere else and the audience is left catching up, shut behind a door while the party is happening outside. By the time the film ends, you’re just happy you made it, complete with no real conclusion and no real consequences.
[Directed by Dennis Iliadis] [NR] [95 min] [20 September 2013]