Monday, September 19, 2022

The Finnish Twinnith


Twins! Old houses! European folk horror!

What's not to want out of a movie with so many keywords?

Quick Plot: Rachel and Anthony have lost one of their twin boys in a car accident, leaving a whole lot of pain and better behaved Elliot behind. In the hopes of clearing the slate, the new family of three relocates to Anthony's ancestral home: a rural, isolated part of Finland that seems to have stopped progressing long before the internet (or at times, electricity).

Anthony attempts to type away on his new novel while Rachel hesitantly settles in, trying to help Elliot through the grief of missing his own other half. The only neighbor who willingly speaks English and attempts to befriend Rachel is Helen, an eccentric town exile who's either delusional or Rachel's only chance at saving her family's collective soul.

Strange things befall Rachel: Elliot's insistence that his brother is alive, nightmares where she's burying the wrong twin, photographs that suggest something demonic has possessed her son, and so on. Anthony is deep into playing the typical horror movie bad husband/dad role, rolling his eyes at his wife's claims and ignoring their remaining son because, you know, he's a bad movie dad.

Directed and co-written by Taneli Mustonen, The Twin is a handsome-looking, competently made thriller that is unfortunately wildly disappointing in its final product. The scenic Finnish setting and Teresa Palmer's performance go a long way in creating and maintaining an eerie atmosphere, but at a certain point, it becomes very clear that the substance is missing. You can only have so many dream sequences before you as a viewer give up.

Once the details become clear (particularly when the movie stops for five minutes to make sure you got them) you can see that The Twin is a mirage of a movie. All of the haunting atmosphere and hazy skies are style without substance. The film seems to be set in modern times, yet Rachel has to get film developed just to prolong the inevitable reveal that SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH HER SON. 

It's those kinds of details that, when you sit back, just feel annoying. 

High Points
The fraught and grieving mother is probably like a perfectly cooked rare steak to many actresses because it demands so much intensity and character weight. Teresa Palmer is well up to the challenge here, making Rachel a deeply troubled but more deeply devoted parent who more than holds the movie on her cardigan wrapped shoulders

Low Points
It's fair to say that at this point in time, with over a century's worth of practice, there's a better way for a major plot reveal than a five minute exposition dump

Lessons Learned
The popular pirate ship amusement ride has its origins in Finnish wedding rituals

Ladies, no matter how perfect he may otherwise be, if you anticipate a future that comes anywhere near the horror genre, never, and I mean NEVER, marry a novelist

If you adore a good European small town setting and a slow reveal, you MIGHT get some mileage out of The Twin. It's a well-made film, just, well, ultimately, not a particularly good one. Use your judgment and find it on Shudder.

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