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Plus One: Film Review

Dennis Iliadis' PLUS ONE Still EXCLUSIVE - H 2013

The Bottom Line

Party-set pic is as interested in teen romance as in its sci-fi premise.

Venue

Fantasia International Film Festival (IFC Midnight)

Cast

Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall, Logan Miller, Valyn Hall

Director

Dennis Iliadis

Director Dennis Iliadis envisions an epic kegger disrupted by hiccups in space-time.

MONTREAL -- The nascent "party to end all parties" genre gets a time-traveling tweak in Dennis Iliadis' Plus One, a film where teenage revelers are pitted against copies of themselves transported from the very recent past. Though it doesn't exploit every angle its premise offers, the quick-moving film has significant youth appeal and could, with good timing and smart marketing, draw a modest multiplex audience.

While festival materials describe it as a horror film, the pic falls (some disturbing third-act imagery notwithstanding) squarely in the sci-fi/supernatural-event realm, with the nearby crash of a meteorite somehow triggering electromagnetic disturbances that, you know, upset the space-time continuum. Bill Gullo's script doesn't even attempt to explain this, and spends as little time as possible having teen partygoers piece together the phenomenon's ground rules: Every time the lights flicker, our heroes see their doppelgangers doing what they themselves were doing 20 minutes ago; then 15 minutes ago; then five. What will happen when the real kids and their clones occupy the same moment in time?

This makes only a little more sense on screen than in synopsis -- not every appearance seems to play by these rules -- but that matters less than it might have thanks to the pic's identification with its characters' non-sci-fi concerns. Before all the weirdness starts, Rhys Wakefield's David goes to attend girlfriend Jill's (Ashley Hinshaw) fencing match. After she loses, he winds up -- in a half-accidental encounter -- briefly kissing the girl who beat her. Jill dumps him on the spot, and the only reason David goes out to party later with best friend Teddy (Logan Miller) is in hopes of convincing her to give him a second chance.

While earnest, heartbroken David spies on Jill's flirtation with an older guy, he's the first to observe the meteorite's double-trouble effects. Teddy, who has been invited upstairs for a once-in-a-lifetime hookup with the party's hottest girl (Natalie Hall), encounters the weirdness more directly: One second he's in a room with his naked dream girl, the next second there are two of them. In action that will ring false for most male viewers, Teddy flees the room instead of exploding in erotic delight.

Soon, the few partygoers who have noticed what's happening are trying to keep the scores of others from encountering their doubles. The mechanics of the action (which has a large group moving around so much it can remain oblivious to the timequakes) may be tough to swallow, but it's novel enough to hold the viewer's interest while David, less interested in the group's safety than in creating his own second chance with Jill's double, tries to figure out which Jill is which.

The plot's resolution takes a very dark turn, in action that works surprisingly well from a tech standpoint and less so in terms of logic. Production values are strong, particularly lensing by Mihai Malaimare Jr., who has done excellent work for Paul Thomas Anderson and Francis Ford Coppola.

Production Company: Process Films

Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall, Logan Miller

Director: Dennis Iliadis

Screenwriter: Bill Gullo

Producers: Tim Perell, Dennis Iliadis

Executive producers: Brothers Strause, Edson Williams, Thomas Nittmann, Guy Botham

Director of photography: Mihai Malaimare Jr.

Production designer: Roshelle Berliner

Music: Nathan Larson

Costume designer: Carol Beadle

Editor: Yorgos Mavropsaridis

Sales: CAA

No rating, 95 minutes