In ‘The Twin,’ an Idyllic Life in Finland is Hard to Do When You’ve Got a Creepy Kid

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CREDIT: Shudder/Screenshot

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Steven Cree, Tristan Ruggeri, Barbara Marten

Director: Taneli Mustonen

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (PG-13 Level for General Creepiness)

Release Date: May 6, 2022 (Theaters, On Demand, and Streaming on Shudder)

The Twin is an English-language horror flick with a Finnish director and what appears to be a mostly Finnish crew. Which is to say, I was all prepared for a convoluted-in-translation affair in which the actors do their best to turn an oddly phrased screenplay into natural-sounding dialogue. But for the most part, this tale of a grieving husband and wife who move to Finland with their young son after his twin brother dies in an accident is fairly straightforward. Perhaps a bit too straightforward, insofar as it comes off as a pastiche of earlier trailblazing horror flicks. Spoilers are unavoidable if I want to mention what those movies are, so I’ll add a SPOILER ALERT!!! Here and note that what at first seems like a Rosemary’s Baby-style cabal turns out instead to be a sloppier version of the Shutter Island gambit. (SPOILER ALERT OVER)

So The Twin is hardly reinventing the wheel, but at least Teresa Palmer (who plays mom Rachel) is always compelling, no matter how much the material does or doesn’t rise up to her level. Outside of her acting career, Palmer is a mother herself who also co-runs a lifestyle brand called “Your Zen Mama.” Which is to say, she’s philosophically committed herself to a theoretical and practical investigation of what motherhood is all about, and that absolutely comes across in her performance.

While The Twin probably won’t keep you up at night, I would recommend that any horror devotee check it out to keep a pulse on the genre beyond the most high-profile releases. If you’re like me, you know that we fright flick folks like to keep a taxonomy of how filmmakers are spooking us nowadays, and The Twin‘s efforts are instructive in its attempts to pull from various inspirations. It’s available on Shudder, and if you’re a Shudder subscriber, you’re probably the type of person who will gladly take a chance on something off the beaten path like this anyway.

The Twin is Recommended If You Like: Old lady neighbors who might be friend or foe, Slo-mo silent shots of devastated screaming, Confusing possessions

Grade: 2 out of 5 Cloudy Days

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/8/21

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Dickinson (CREDIT: Apple TV/YouTube Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Dickinson Season 2 Premiere (January 8 on Apple TV+) – I just started watching Season 1, and I hope to be caught up soon!
Whose Line is it Anyway? Season 17 Premiere (January 8 on The CW)
A Discovery of Witches Season 2 Premiere (January 9 on Shudder and Sundance Now) – You know I GOT TO watch a show with Teresa Palmer.
Critics Choice Super Awards (January 10 on The CW)
Search Party Season 4 Premiere (January 14 on HBO Max) – The third season arrived less than a year ago!

My 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Adventure

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Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Another spring, another Tribeca Film Festival. As is my custom, I took in a few films at the Lower Manhattan fest, and now I am here to report back to you what I thought of the offerings. Read on to discover what was in store in my 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Adventure!

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This Is a Movie Review: ‘2:22’ Has No Idea What Makes Patterns Compelling

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This review was originally posted on News Cult in June 2017.

Starring: Michiel Huisman, Teresa Palmer, Sam Reid

Director: Paul Currie

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Stray Bullets and Falling Chandeliers

Release Date: June 30, 2017 (Limited)

What if you noticed a pattern of ominous occurrences happening at the same time every day? Would you conclude that you were going insane, or that you were the star of a movie with a nonsensical screenplay? Is there a difference? The makers of 2:22 would like you to think so. The trouble is, they do not seem to realize how ridiculous their film is. It is bad enough when stories about the patterns that secretly dictate our lives are silly when they mean to be profound, but 2:22 makes it a trifecta by adding inscrutable and boring to the mix.

The first half hour or so is at least agreeably intriguing. Dylan (Michiel Huisman) is an air traffic controller who prides himself on getting his landings and takeoffs right by fastidiously sticking to his routines. But when a random lapse in focus nearly leads him to cause a crash between a departing and an arriving plane, he ends up suspended from his job. He uses the resulting free time to investigate an inexplicable pattern of events happening in the same order every day, always culminating at Grand Central Station at 2:22 PM. One would assume that the near-crash is a prologue that provides vital info relevant to the 2:22 business, but as far as I can tell, they have nothing to do with each other.

Dylan also strikes up a romance with art gallery worker Sarah (Teresa Palmer), one of the passengers in the near-crash. When she discovers his part in her almost dying, she brushes it off and declares that he in fact saved her, a turn that is maddening, but Palmer’s immense charm makes it (barely) palatable.

2:22 throttles towards attempting to provide some sort of concrete explanation for the pattern and why only Dylan recognizes it. Sarah’s ex-boyfriend Jonas (Sam Reid) debuts a virtual reality art exhibit set in Grand Central, leading Dylan to suspect that he is the one behind these strange occurrences, toying with him in some sort of jealous lover’s quarrel. Physically, that appears impossible, but Jonas’ motivations suggest otherwise. That explanation would be the formula for a cheap emotional thriller, which could easily be overly manipulative but at least potentially understandable.

Instead, the ultimate reveal is some mumbo-jumbo about a metaphysical time loop, wherein Dylan, Sarah, and Jonas are repeating an event that happened decades ago with different people, and/or they are resurrected versions of those people, or they are those people but stuck in limbo, or maybe every generation is doomed to repeat this same disaster. Something something something, be careful about being too committed to your routines?

2:22 is Recommended If You Like: Paranoid Schizophrenia, Endless Theorizing About Everything

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Algorithms