Rachel (Teresa Palmer) has recently suffered a huge trauma when her family were involved in a car crash in the countryside and the accident killed one of her twins. She has one son remaining, Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri), and her husband Anthony (Steven Cree) is doing his best to keep her fragile mental state on an even keel, but even their estate agent advises against their next big decision. This is to move to Finland from America, to Anthony's homeland and an old country house he has there, around the area he grew up; it may seem drastic but there's not much else they can do to get away from a lot of bad memories and prying neighbours. However, Elliot appears to begin acting strangely...
The Twin was a Finnish horror movie from director and co-writer Taneli Mustonen which made no bones about hoping to be mistaken for a Hollywood horror movie. The cast largely spoke English, it was very slickly produced, and it adopted the beats of many an American-style chiller, yet somehow ignoring its country of origin prevented it feeling like its own thing, and that was especially noticeable when you wondered if the genre was ever going to escape the influence of films from half a century or more before these efforts were made. It was all very well being genre savvy, and aware of what has preceded your work to build upon, but when you were lifting bits of plot wholesale for your magnum opus, it did look very lazy.
Indeed, it looked as if you did not have any ideas of your own and were more happy to leave your inspiration to a bunch of old films that frankly by this stage were growing very long in the tooth. Mustonen tried to undercut your expectations by adding a twenty-minute bit at the end with a great big twist contained within, but even that came across as something hacky that we had seen before. The "Is it a dream, or is it real?" business throughout tended to telegraph this revelation anyway, and failed to make much sense after all we had witnessed. But if you were happy seeing a bunch of Finns doing a retread of The Wicker Man mixed with Rosemary's Baby, you could feel shortchanged by that final act, not least because it increased the running time almost to the two-hour mark, which it did not really justify.
Plotwise, Rachel is overprotective about her remaining son, but he seems to be affected by outside forces, perhaps the spirit of his dead twin, perhaps - gasp! - the power of Satan himself! Her husband insists there is nothing wrong and behaves as if all is hunky-dory, but she knows better, and her suspicions bear out the appearance of anonymous villagers who show up silently en masse to menace her. She does get a friend in the shape of the older local eccentric Barbara Marten, a welcome, spiky presence who livens things up a little, though she is only prepared to go so far for her new pal, and oddly sees fit to carry a handgun in the latter stages, unless that was part of the twist. The frustrating aspect here was that Mustonen obviously knew how to put a film together, technically it had no complaints, it was just that on this evidence he mostly knew how to put other people's films together, and you would hope he could apply himself to something that showed off his flair better once he had got the reruns out of his system. Music by Panu Aaltio.
[Starring Teresa Palmer and Steven Cree, The Twin to Stream Exclusively on Shudder Friday, May 6th 2022.]