September 20, 2013 (VOD)
Ashley Hinshaw as Jill
Rhys Wakefield as David
Logan Miller as Teddy
Colleen Dengel as Allison
Every now and then a film comes along that leaves audiences completely perplexed. The Cabin in the Woods is a perfect example of the kind of film that slaps viewers in the face with a right hand only to deliver a simultaneous low blow with the left. Think you see and understand what’s going on? Think again: you just don’t know what’s coming. +1 is that movie. And don’t be confused, I’m not drawing a quality comparison between The Cabin in the Woods and +1, I’m simply informing you that they’re similar efforts in the fact that they’re both highly unpredictable, extremely left-field in concept and a little tough to keep up with. Whether you decide +1 is a brilliant picture or terrible picture is likely to vary. Regardless, viewers will be surprised by Dennis Iliadis’ bold picture, and there’s definitely no shortage of entertainment to be found.
The story deposits a sizable group of rowdy college students in an elaborately decorated home for what promises to be the party to define all parties. For the record, this would certainly qualify as Party of a Lifetime; having spent some time at Chico State I can say I’ve seen some massive, massive parties, but I’ve never seen a shindig of this nature. We’re talking a six-figure party here, sound stages, dance stages, more lights than the Vegas strip, strippers, enough alcohol to leave a village tanked – it’s all here. It’s not realistic, or even close to realistic for that manner, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like a blast. But, I digress. Once at the party strange occurrences immediately begin unfolding. Frequent power outages lead to duplicate humans surfacing. A few savvy partygoers notice the spectacle and the chaos gradually escalates as one figure after another begin discovering his or her own replica. Panic sets in as our “real” kids realize that somehow time is essentially skipping, and the course of their counterparts’ actions are quickly catching up to their current place in existence. In other words, this party is reduced to hiding out, watching clones of themselves doing exactly what they did just minutes prior, wondering what happens when alternate reality catches up and those still having a good time discover that there’s an entire second set of them watching in awe and fear. Chaos happens. Murder happens. That’s what happens in this twisted realm of wrinkled time.
+1 is the type of production that requires repeated viewings to sort out the plot intricacies. There’s just so much going on that it’s a significant challenge deciphering each seemingly relevant plot point after a single viewing. And the truth is, there isn’t a wealth of 411 thrown at the audience. By the time the feature concludes, more questions than answers loom. In the early goings of the film we see an asteroid crash to earth, which seems to have some effect on the city’s electricity. But how? What’s created this strange phenomenon and what are the details of what’s actually happening? Are the “clones” dangerous, or is it the paranoia of the true characters that really poses threat? Could this film conceivably lead to mass schizophrenia? Perhaps.
From a performance stance, the film is solid. Rhys Wakefield (David) doesn’t make for the greatest hero, in fact, he’s certainly not the most likeable character you’ll spot on film. However, he’s got some fun backup from Logan Miller, who portrays the wild free bird sidekick Teddy. Old Teddy here carries the comedic relief on his shoulders, but he responds perfectly to the horrors that unravel as the night progresses as well, proving himself a versatile thespian despite his relative inexperience. Colleen Dengel, who plays the out-of-place nerd Allison also turns in a fine showing. Unfortunately, the heavy emphasis on David and his struggling relationship issues with Jill (Ashley Hinshaw) make for a retardant to this potential fireball. Allison is a spunky young lady who deserved a stronger presence in the pic, there are layers in this personality that go sorely neglected. As a whole, the cast doesn’t make for many hiccups and that keeps the picture moving well.
The story itself is loaded with puzzling revelations, actions and decisions. Nothing seems to be properly explained, and there seem to be repeated plot holes that surface in the celluloid landscape… but how the hell do you even identify a plot problem in a film that feels as though it was assembled by dueling personalities? +1 is a frantic piece of work that delivers one hell of a spin on the invasion concept. For some, there’s a treasure in wait. For others, +1 will be just a bit too outlandish to ever invest in. As crazy, absurd and insanely implausible as most of the film is, I found it to be quite enjoyable. It’s a fresh breath in a genre that’s become known for the taste of stale air in closets cluttered by familiar skeletons. I can’t say I understand (yet) every angle of +1, but for me, it was a blast all the same.