Plus One isn’t for everybody. It sets up a unique Project X via Can’t Hardly Wait universe and melds it into an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers shaped mold. This ultimately might not be the best delivery system for its message, but it swings for the fences in a way I wasn’t expecting and – at the very least – succeeds in being an utterly original (and visually appealing) experiment. After more or less knocking it out of the park with his remake of The Last House On The Left, director Dennis Iliadis (along with writer Bill Gullo) has fashioned something different altogether here.
David [Rhys Wakefield] has just irrevocably damaged his relationship with his girlfriend Jill [Chronicle‘s Ashley Hinshaw] on the eve of the year’s biggest college party. They’re both still going – but not together. Jill brings a new suitor while David teams up with the impressively horny Teddy [Logan Miller] as his wingman. The party itself is an utterly debauched spectacle with enough drugs, sex, dancing and copious nudity to make Todd Phillips (or Roger Avary) proud. It’s a fun chunk of film that is choreographed exceedingly well (this pays off even more when certain beats start repeating themselves). Not long after they get there, things begin to go awry – the result of a meteor crash that has cloned everyone in the vicinity and placed them in the same space but not at the same time (everyone’s second version is about 30 minutes behind their primary self).
If that sounds confusing, it is. But as Plus One progresses and the two divergent timelines grow closer together, it becomes apparent that there’s a cataclysmic event waiting in the wings if any of the partygoers run into the secondary versions of themselves (or vice versa). Of course, there’s no set rule that one version of any person has to destroy the other – the danger comes from society’s inherent expectation that anything that defies explanation must be dangerous. For David, this is an opportunity to re-do a botched apology he made to Jill earlier in the evening. For Suzanne McCloskey’s (in the Lauren Ambrose role) wonderfully sweet and assertive character, it’s a chance to get to know herself better. For almost everyone else, it means terror and reactionary violence and there’s a protracted scene featuring two identical mobs that takes quite a brutal turn.
While I never found myself particularly liking the character of David, most of the leads turn in good work and the film (shot by The Master DP Mihai Malaimare Jr.) never falters on visual aesthetic. Plus One also pretty much demands that you pay attention if you want to keep up, something you’re not usually asked to do in sci-fi horror movies soaked in booze and sexuality. If you do, you’ll find that the film has a lot on its mind. It’s an inspired take on what happens when we choose to view the world through a fearful lens rather than an accepting one. It also has interesting things to say about being in love with the idea of somebody rather than the actual person.
You may or may not like it, but Plus One certainly isn’t a waste of your time. Go with an open mind and you might just have a lot of fun with it.