The Twin - New Release Review
Director: Taneli Mustonen
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Steven Cree, Barbara Marten, Tristan Ruggeri
Written by: Aleksi Hyvärinen, Taneli Mustonen
Produced by: Aleksi Hyvärinen, Joris van Wijk
Cinematography by: Daniel Lindholm
Original Score by: Panu Aaltio
After the death of one of their twin sons, a couple move to Finland to start over but the mother begins to suspect something sinister going on with her surviving son Elliot.
It's really difficult to think of anything more horrific than losing a child and Finnish director Taneli Mustonen does an amazing job of bringing that worst fear to the screen through an exceptional performance from Teresa Palmer and some impressive plot twists.
Palmer plays Rachel, a mother severely struggling with the death of one of her twin boys, who moves to the Finnish countryside with husband Anthony (Steven Cree) and surviving twin Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri) in the hopes to start afresh in brand new surroundings. Like most stories like this, it starts off swimmingly. A huge roomy house. Serene, expansive lush scenery. A small community of tightly knit villagers. Peace and quiet and at least some hope for their future as a family. But Rachel soon begins to see changes in Elliot. Subtle at first but concerning nonetheless.
'The Twin' could easily have been released during the mid 2000's and it wouldn't look or feel out of place. It immediately reminded me of the 2009 creepfest 'The Orphan' starring Isabelle Fuhrman. While it is gorgeous to look at, especially the exterior shots exploring the beautiful rural land surrounding the homestead, lots of what's going on here has been done before and felt a tad repetitive. It does work well as an homage to horror classics like 'The Omen' and even modern stuff like 'Midsommar' however I do think the setup is just too slow and if the talent of Teresa Palmer wasn't guiding it along I may have had an argument of losing interest.
This is Taneli Mustonen's English language debut feature film and his work is remarkable considering the script feels way overwritten and although I did enjoy the huge twist at the end, it just felt like too much. The film doubles down hard on going in one direction and then from out of nowhere turns dramatically in a completely different direction. There's quite a chunk of messy and convoluted devil worshipping going on during the 3rd act that essentially gets negated by the twist. I think the twist actually made it more interesting but there was so much time spent on the Satanic stuff earlier on in the film that it was difficult to be invested in any other conclusion.
The film does an adequate job of exploring the mental disintegration of a grieving parent and may be triggering for those who have experienced the death of a child. Without giving away any spoilers I think it's important to note that Rachel's torment is born from her own self guilt which makes her grieving process all the more taxing. Most of the scares are dream sequences and again that becomes a little tiresome at times. Although the Scandinavian backwoods location is stunning, sadly it just borrows too much from other films within the genre (Mother having disturbing dreams, Satanic cults, evil child). It's a solid, competent psychological horror film but unfortunately it lacks the originality to get to that shocking twist at the end with any genuine satisfaction.
- Gavin Logan
'The Twin' is available to stream exclusively on Shudder May 6th