The Twin (2022) Doubles Up on Shallow Characterization and Stale Horror Cliches
Title: The Twin
First Non-Festival Release: April 6, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Taneli Mustonen
Writer: Aleksi Hyvärinen, Taneli Mustonen
Runtime: 109 Minutes
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Steven Cre, Tristan Ruggeri
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After tragedy strikes, a family makes the arduous journey to Finland to heal. Anthony (Steven Cree) is excited to return to his homeland and get back into writing after the ordeal. Rachel (Teresa Palmer) is excited to spend time with her son Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri) and help him process the death of his twin brother Nathan (Tristan Ruggeri). All is not well in paradise, as strange things begin occurring in their new home involving Elliot. His erratic behavior escalates, and Rachel starts panicking. She turns to town outcast Helen (Barbara Marten) who shares that Elliot may have fallen victim to a sinister conspiracy. It’s up to Rachel to save her son from those trying to take him out of this world.
Long-winded and tropey, The Twin fumbles its way beat by beat before reaching its obvious expository-laced conclusion.
Much of the let-down in The Twin arises from its story. With every angle and twist that could have been taken, none are as infuriating as the one that The Twin takes. It doesn’t take much to unravel the plot of this film to cast light on all its flaws. By the time it hits its “shocker” of an ending, the film feels cheap. The angle it goes for falls apart the moment any scrutiny is put up against it. One character and her experiences make a case for something happening alongside the central story, despite the ending attempting to negate it. It’s confusing to explain because it is poorly rendered and irritating to remember. Regardless, The Twin does have plenty to say despite its plot clearly lacking in thought.
These themes of grief and psychological safety are present throughout the film. Rachel is hurting after the loss of her son. She tries to move forward, which is what everyone seems to want but doesn’t have it in her. Little things set off her protective triggers to ensure that Elliot doesn’t meet the same fate as Nathan. Making breakfast a certain way, setting up an extra bed, and spending extra time with Elliot are all responses to her desire for normalcy, one which she won’t ever have again. Grief has destroyed Rachel’s ability to process emotions and live in a reality without her son. It’s this driving belief that leads to misfortune in the end.
What makes matters worse, is there is a distinct lack of authenticity in the performances and characters. Teresa Palmer’s Rachel is a difficult character to understand. Her relationship with Steven Cree’s Anthony is confusing to say the least. Throughout the film, his decisions to give her space to process are confounding, even when understanding the why behind some of those decisions. It isn’t believable at all, and it is further exacerbated by the absence of chemistry between Palmer and Cree. It’s clear both are competent actors, but all that talent falls flat. Palmer’s performance reads as melodramatic and detached, which could work given Rachel’s history, but doesn’t quite reach.
Slow and meandering, the film wanders through multiple horror subgenres without committing to anything. By the end, it all feels pointless. Another brooding psychological horror film without much substance beyond saying that grief can destroy a person. Aside from some nice photography and decent production values, there isn’t much to offer in the film. Most of it is middling supernatural horror that at best offers nothing in the end and at worst clearly contradicts the story.
A lack of identity does The Twin in ways that the devil himself couldn’t manipulate. Unnecessarily misdirecting and narratively clunky, The Twin’s attempt to combine cult horror, creepy kid horror, and psychological horror fails miserably on all levels. By the time the film reaches its obvious climax, audiences have grown tired of its schtick well before The Twin does. A few creepy scenes and some strong imagery help propel this below average horror film close to the surface, but it never quite emerges out of the depths. More wasted potential than wasted time, the biggest frustration lies within its indecisiveness. For those looking for Nordic charm or have a particular interest in parent centric horror may find something interesting, otherwise The Twin will have cannibalized itself before your eyes should you choose to watch.
Overall Score? 4.5/10