Decent twin genre films are often hard to come by, especially when the bar was set so high by Cronenberg’s masterful Dead Ringers. A horrific character study with a career defining dual-performance by Jeremy Irons, the Canadian director’s 1988 film was not only one of the most disturbing and provocative films in a decade where neither of those things were especially prevalent, but it forever changed the direction of his career. Since then, we’ve been subjected to cringe-inducing productions like I Know Who Killed Me, which is actually about twins, though I don’t think that’s particularly easy to ascertain as the film is extremely convoluted and misguided, resulting in one of the biggest headaches in recent memory. Antonio Negret, who was included on Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Top 10 Latino Director To Watch’ in 2008 shortly after the debut of Hacia la Oscuridad, throws his hat into the bunk bed sub-genre with Seconds Apart, which, while not mind-blowing, is certainly a delightfully creepy surprise.
Gary and Edmund Entin star as Seth and Jonah Trimble, telekinetic twins who can control the minds and actions of those around them. After orchestrating a game of Russian Roulette between four loathsome teens at a party, Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones) is tipped off about their possible involvement by one of the deceased’s girlfriends and interrogates them. Coming up empty handed but being put off by them, Lampkin’s suspicions begin to grow as more and more people around him drop like flies. The boys, meanwhile, are being torn apart by Eve (Samantha Droke), throwing their schedule for “The Project” way off track, which has them recording their antics in an effort to elicit emotional responses from each other.
Although the Entin Bros., Louis Herthum (The Last Exorcism) and Morgana Shaw put in excellent performances as the off-kilter Trimble family and are the driving force behind the ominous and dread-filled atmosphere, it’s Jones who puts in the show-stealing performance as Lampkin. He finds a good balance between the internal and external tortures of a man who is grief stricken over the loss of his wife, only to be reminded of it every day when he looks into the mirror and sees a scarred face starring back at him. Regardless of being mostly known for his stint on MADtv and being a spokesman for 7 Up, Jones proves that he has more to offer than his comedic chops.
Some comparisons can be made to Dead Ringers, as the physical catalyst for the deconstruction of both sets of twins’ relationship is a woman that comes between them, but Seconds Apart has more to thank Robert Mulligan’s underseen gem The Other for. Seth and Jonah’s bond is broken over the course of the film as their viewpoints change, and while that isn’t much of a surprise, the film’s exposition and secrets are told with just enough restraint to string viewers along and keep them watching. George Richards’ script establishes that their powers of control are at their peak when together early on, but as their relationship deteriorates, the question then becomes what sort of destruction and deception are they capable of on their own. It’s an unspoken idea that drives the second half of the film, and leads to a third act revelation that is reminiscent of De Palma.
An impressive sophomore effort from Negret, Seconds Apart successfully explores the power of perception while maintaining an eerie ambiance created by some unsettling imagery and a string-rich score by Lior Rosner. While Richards’ premise certainly isn’t anything new, the snappy dialogue between the twins and story progression works alongside the stellar performances to make Seconds Apart the most interesting and well-made twin film since Adaptation.