Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Double Born and Plot Twists: A Movie Review

Director/writer: Tony Randel.

The Double Born
has played at several film festivals throughout 2008 to 2009 and now the film is available on DVD, as of January 26th. The Double Born is 90% drama and 10% horror, with excellent performances from the cast all around. Described by the indie film review site Badlit as creating a "sexy, simmering slow burn," The Double Born gets the pacing right (Badlit). The feature also puts film director and writer Tony Randel (Amityville 1992) back in the director's chair after a ten year hiatus. This pause from film creating has allowed Randel to hone his skill, as the writing from The Double Born acts like a hook, that will not let go until this complex web is unraveled.

The tone for The Double Born starts as tense, pauses here and there, but stays dramatic through many of the plot twists in the film. Included in the twisting and turning are characters Harry (Jake Bern) and Tommy (Alex Weed), whose psychotic tendencies do not get revealed until late in the picture. Other subplots include Sophonisba (Sammi Davis) desperately attempting to get pregnant from an infertile husband, while sister Hallie (Jenny Dare Paulin) acts as the calm in the storm of violence, sexuality, grief and loss.

Character Sophia aka Sophonisba has lost a child through abduction and much of her anguish is transferred to the other characters, who have emotional scars of their own. Sophia's loss is what keeps the intensity high in film, as the pacing moves, mostly quickly, towards a revisit of an unforgotten past. The synopsis, here, is convoluted purposely to keep the ending in shadows.

The directing techniques in the film are kept simple, with some auditory and visual hallucinations thrown in, infrequently, to hint at a sinisterness in many of the characters (Harry). The Double Born is shot with an almost black and white lens, which keeps the visual atmosphere less than stunning, but the simplicity works on some level. Thankfully not all the shots are indoor and the cinematography, when shown, looks awesome. However, can a director also serve double duty as a scriptwriter?

One of the great things about independent filmmaking is the openness this creative sphere is to complex and interesting ideas. Yes, there are a lot of indie films that forget the script and instead go for the make-up effects, or visual appeal to entertain. That is not the case in The Double Born. Here, the writing delivers well drawn characters, great character reveals, and an ending, that while somewhat predictable, is still jaw-dropping. The final scene is more foreboding than anything else.

Currently available for a Netflix queue, or a DVD tray, The Double Born is time well spent. The film will not be seen as true horror to most fans, but watching a fourty year old woman, plus, chase around every virile man in the picture can be seen as more horrifying than any Nightmare on Elm Street. Available now, this reviewer invites you to sit down to Tony Randel's latest feature for an hour and a half to come up with your own thoughts, or create your own review.

More info' on The Double Born through the Painted Bird film site:

The Double Born at Painted Bird Films

Directing/control of overall production/coaching: 8.
Acting/believability/interpretation: 7.5 (special not to Jake Bern for portraying looming monstrosity with understatement - it is 2:00am - does this make sense)?
Plot/story/closure/unity: 8.5
Photography/composition/colour - effectiveness: 6.5.

Overall: 7.5.


The Double Born Review at Bad Lit

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