CAPSULE: PLUS 1 [+1] (2013)

DIRECTED BY: Dennis Iliadis

FEATURING: Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw, Logan Miller, Suzanne Dengel, Colleen Dengel

PLOT: Doppelgangers crash the party of the year.

Still from Plus One [+1]
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: +1 is a lightweight stab at a midnight movie. It looks pretty and has a party vibe, but it’s a shallow affair that only reminds you of better movies with similar themes.

COMMENTS: There isn’t any attempt (other than a meteor that crashes into a telephone pole) to explain why exact doubles of teenage revelers are appearing at the party of the year. That’s odd, but what’s even stranger than that is the beautiful blond fashion model wallflower who’s hot to jump the bones of the ersatz  nerd after he makes an awkward pass at her. In other words, the problem is that +1 just isn’t very well written. It starts with a plot device that could have gone in interesting directions, either in its narrative or its psychology, but it chooses instead to be an overly serious teen sex romp with a muddled sci-fi/horror premise. The movie is at its best in painting a fantasy of collegiate hedonism, with the kind of party a Kardashian heir might throw for his frat brothers. The host’s house is decorated with about two miles of Christmas lights, and includes hired strippers on a backyard stage (complete with a video wall) and a human buffet table imported from China. When you add in the tequila shooter budget, the entire night’s set-up must cost about as much as a year’s tuition at a state college. It’s no wonder half the women who attend are dressed in bikinis, and the guys decide to light tennis balls on fire and bat them about the living room. With all the attention that was paid to party planning, however, the actual plot is not nearly as intricate or paradoxical as you might hope. In a self-absorbed move that’s actually somewhat believable for a nineteen-year old male, the central character treats the supernatural appearance of a double of his estranged girlfriend as a Groundhog Day-like opportunity to patch things up. Unfortunately, by the end of the movie, I was convinced that the two romantic leads didn’t belong together, and it would be best for them to move on separately with their lives, which is not the response the script is aiming for. As far as the rest of the character’s reactions to this bizarre phenomenon: how do you make the concept of a bunch of teenagers adopting a violent, irrational mob mentality hard to swallow? I don’t know, but +1 manages it. The finale features some memorable imagery, but is ultimately as nonsensical as it is anticlimactic. Do keep an eye peeled for some nude kung fu, though. +1 is a glitzy pic, with lots of pretty lights and taut female flesh to distract you, but sadly the sophomoric questions it poses don’t go much deeper than “would you make out with yourself if you were kinda hot?” If you want a truly spooky scenario with killer doubles plus a dose of psychological depth, watch Triangle instead.

+1 was part of a mini-doppelganger trend in 2013 independent cinema, which also saw an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Double (starring Jesse Eisenberg) and ‘s The Enemy (starring Jake Gyllenhaal) playing at film festivals.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A seriously weird little movie… an intriguing effort that can’t quite sustain a consistent tone throughout.”–David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews (festival screening)

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